Major US airlines warn rollout of 5G services will cause ‘chaos’

Airline lobby group calls on the Biden administration to block the rollout of 5G

American Airline planes sit on the tarmac at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Photograph: STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

American Airline planes sit on the tarmac at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Photograph: STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

 

The imminent rollout of high-speed 5G telecoms services could ground flights across the US, America’s largest airlines warned on Monday, as they urged government agencies to intervene to avoid “chaos” for passengers and “incalculable” disruptions to supply chains.

“The harm that will result from deployment on January 19th is substantially worse than we originally anticipated,” Airlines for America, an industry lobby group warned on Monday, pointing to the potential for 5G services to interfere with the sensitive equipment which aircraft use to take off and land. The letter was signed by America’s largest carriers as well as UPS Airlines and FedEx Express.

Block rollout

The letter, reported seen by the Financial Times, called on the Biden administration to block the rollout of 5G using towers located about two miles from airport runways that the Federal Aviation Authority has identified as being prone to disruption.

“Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the travelling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,” the lobby group, wrote in a letter to officials including Brian Deese, the National Economic Council director, and Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary.

Reuters first reported on the warning from major US carriers.

The White House and the transportation department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

AT&T and Verizon had planned to launch their 5G services on December 5th, but delayed the launch by a month to allow time for safety reviews. The two telecoms groups initially rejected a request from regulators to delay their rollout by another two weeks to January 19th, but then agreed to do so. - Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022