Multiple international airlines canceled US-bound flights scheduled for Wednesday as a planned rollout of 5G service prompts safety concerns.
The cancellations occurred despite decisions by AT&T and Verizon to temporarily delay their 5G launch near airports. Federal aviation officials and top US airlines fear the 5G signals could interfere with instruments that measure altitude on some passenger plane models, such as the widely used Boeing 777.
Dubai-based Emirates said it was changing flight plans “due to operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the US at certain airports.” The airline said flights to certain US destinations are suspended “until further notice.”
“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our US services as soon as possible,” Emirates said in a statement.
Emirates said the decision impacts flights bound for Boston, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco and Seattle airports. Flights to New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC, will continue as scheduled.
Japan-based All Nippon Airways made a similar announcement, noting the Federal Aviation Administration “has indicated that radio waves from the 5G wireless service may interfere with aircraft altimeters.”
“Boeing has announced flight restrictions on all airlines operating the Boeing 777 aircraft, and we have canceled or changed the aircraft for some flights to/from the U.S. based on the announcement by Boeing,” All Nippon Airways said.
The cancellations affect 20 flights, including some bound for New York and Chicago.
Air India noted it would cancel flights bound for New York, Newark, Chicago and San Francisco “Due to deployment of the 5G communications in USA.”
Japan Airlines said it would stop using the Boeing 777 plane model on US-bound flights until the safety concerns are resolved.
Germany-based Lufthansa said it canceled a flight bound for Miami and would switch from the Boeing 747-8 model to the 747-400 model on some flights, according to Reuters.
British Airways canceled some US flights slated to use the Boeing 777 and switched to different models on others.
On Tuesday, an AT&T spokesperson said the firm would continue with its 5G rollout as scheduled, but “voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways” due to safety concerns.
Verizon said it had “voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports.”
Both telecom giants expressed frustration that concerns related to the 5G launch had yet to be resolved.
Their decision to alter plans came after US airline and shipping firm CEOs warned top Biden administration officials that the launch could cause “catastrophic” disruptions to air travel. The CEOs suggested flight cancellations could exceed 1,000 per day if potential signal interference was not addressed.
Despite the decision to alter the 5G rollout, Delta Air Lines warned some flight schedule disruptions may still occur.
“While this is a positive development toward preventing widespread disruptions to flight operations, some flight restrictions may remain,” Delta said in a release.
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