Airline CEOs warn 5G rollout could be ‘catastrophic’ for travel

The chief executives of several major US airlines and shipping firms have warned that a planned rollout of 5G service could have “catastrophic” consequences for travelers and commerce.

The CEOs demanded “immediate intervention” from the government before planes are grounded by the 5G service set to be deployed by AT&T and Verizon on Wednesday.

“Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,” read the letter signed by the CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and others.

The letter sent to several government agencies said they fear that 5G service will interfere with sensitive instruments that measure altitude on some planes, resulting in flight disruptions that “could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas.”

A Southwest Airlines plane approaches to land.
CEOs demanded “immediate intervention” by the government before planes are grounded by 5G service.

“This means that on a day like yesterday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers would be subjected to cancellations, diversions or delays,” the letter said.

The executives warned that any disruptions to service would also impact the supply chain.

“To be blunt, the nation’s commerce will grind to a halt,” the letter said.

The executives asked for 5G “to be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate 2 miles of airport runways at affected airports as defined by the FAA.”

The letter was addressed to top government officials, including White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Steve Dickson.

In a response to the letter, the FAA said it “will continue to ensure that the traveling public is safe as wireless companies deploy 5G. The FAA continues to work with the aviation industry and wireless companies to try to limit 5G-related flight delays and cancellations.”

A plane lands on a runway.
The letter warned that the nation’s commerce would “grind to a halt.”

Over the weekend, the FAA said it has cleared about 45% of the US commercial airplane fleet to perform low-visibility landings at airports impacted by the 5G rollout.

The Federal Communications Commission and Department of Transportation did not immediately comment, Reuters reported.

The letter is the latest in a long-running spat between AT&T and Verizon and the US airlines. Earlier this month, the telecom firms agreed to delay their 5G rollout for another two weeks due to the safety concerns. The companies also said they would implement mitigation zones to prevent interference near airports for six months, as well as other safety measures.

AT&T and Verizon paid nearly $70 billion in an auction last year for the right to build 5G C-band networks.

With Post wires