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ECJ - Compulsory Retirement Age for Pilots

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[Thanks to Emma Price of Temple Garden Chambers for preparing this case summary]

Is a compulsory retirement age for pilots contrary to the EU prohibition on age discrimination? 'No', says the European Court in Prigge v Lufthansa, but subject to necessity and proportionality.

The ECJ gave Judgment today on a reference from the German Federal Labour Court arising from a collective agreement to which a German Airline was a party. The agreement automatically terminated the employment of the Airline's pilots when they reached the age of 60.

In respect of Article 2(5) of the Directive, measures that aim to stop human failure causing aeronautical accidents constitute measures aiming to ensure public security and protection of health. Member states can authorise social partners, through collective agreements, to adopt measures in furtherance of this aim. However, since the applicable national and international law considered it unnecessary to prohibit pilots from acting as pilots until the age of 65, a measure prohibiting pilots from acting as pilots after 60 was not necessary.

Similarly, under Article 4(1) of the Directive, possessing particular physical capabilities may be a 'genuine and determining occupational requirement' for pilots and it is undeniable that physical capabilities diminish with age but the requirement was disproportionate where prohibition was from the age of 60.