The retirement age for El Al Israel Airlines pilots continues to make the headlines. After the El Al Pilots Union filed a court appeal this month against the company’s demand to lower the retirement age from 67 to 65, sources inform “Globes” that over 300 El Al pilots have signed a petition calling on their comrades serving in senior positions (department supervisors) to resign in protest.
The pilots, who are unwilling to hang up their wings before age 67, the official retirement age in Israel, are protesting the decision by the Israel Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) to endorse the instruction of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), of which Israel is a member, to set the maximum flight age at 65, as of November 13. The pilots say that the instruction is unsuitable for Israeli aviation and the retirement age in Israel, and that the ICAO’s decision is causing them disproportionate and illegal harm.
Two months ago, outgoing ICAA director Giora Romm notified the managers of El Al, Arkia Airlines Ltd., Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd., and CAL Cargo Airlines and the Pilots Union that starting in November, pilots over age 65 would no longer be allowed to fly for commercial airlines. This meant that dozens of pilots over 65 who are currently flying would have to stop working in the near future.
Pilot Eran Gal, the initiator of the El Al pilots protest entitled “Veterans Protest Call for Resignation of Department Supervisors,” wrote in a petition sent to his colleagues, “It’s happening three weeks from now, and the company management is shrugging in innocence, bordering on malevolence, without showing the slightest sympathy for a large group of senior pilots, who served the company loyally for decades. It’s as if it were none of management’s business that in less than a month, a group of senior pilots will find itself in a hopeless situation, without work, without a living, and without pension rights. Some or all of this public will find itself queuing up at the unemployment office asking for unemployment benefits. What a disgrace, what an insult. Who would have believed that we would fall in such an abyss without any brakes or parachutes?
“The group of department supervisors is not responsible only for professional matters; it is also a significant part of the management backbone. In order to avoid being tainted by management’s attitude to its senior pilots, I call on them to immediately fall in line by giving notice of resignation from their positions as supervisors.” El Al said, “We regret the content and style of what was said. Under international regulations, pilots cannot fly past age 65. We are working now to find a solution to the problem through dialogue.”