U.S. airlines and cargo carriers on Monday warned that the new 5G wireless service set to deploy Wednesday could ground flights, potentially stranding thousands of Americans overseas and delaying the delivery of key goods.
In a letter to Biden administration officials, executives of major carriers wrote that C-band 5G causes disruptions to airplanes’ instruments that could make “huge swaths” of the U.S. fleet unusable. They noted that by Wednesday’s deadline, most of the nation’s large airports will be under 5G-related flight restrictions from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“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,” chief executives of Delta Airlines, United Airlines, FedEx, UPS and others wrote in the letter.
The executives urged U.S. officials to prevent 5G from being implemented within 2 miles of affected airports until the FAA figures out a way for affected airplanes to fly safely or risk a “catastrophic disruption” to passenger flights and the global supply chain.
“Immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies,” they wrote in a letter to White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
Reuters first reported the details of the letter Monday.
The letter comes after the FAA on Sunday said that it had cleared an estimated 45 percent of the U.S. commercial airplane fleet to perform low-visibility landings at airports where the new 5G service would be deployed. The agency is expected to approve more aircraft soon.
Earlier this month, Verizon and AT&T agreed to delay the 5G rollout until Jan. 19 at the request of Buttigieg. The service was previously set to go into effect Jan. 5.