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Airlines call on Biden admin to halt 5G deployment near airports

Airlines call on Biden admin to halt 5G deployment near airports
The U.S. airline industry on Monday has again called on the Biden administration to halt the deployment of 5G near airports. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The United States' leading airlines have again called on the Biden administration to not implement 5G technology near airports, stating to do so would cause "significant operation disruption" to air passengers, shippers and supply chains.

The letter signed by executives of the nation's 10 leading airlines was sent Monday to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Stephen Dickson and others asking them to halt deployment Wednesday of 5G technology within two miles of airport runways.

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"The ripple effects across both passenger and cargo operations, our workforce and the broader economy are simply incalculable," the executives said in the letter obtained by POLITICO. "Every one of the passenger and cargo carriers will be struggling to get people shipments, planes and crews where they need to be. To be blunt, the nation's commerce will grind to a halt."

The letter follows AT&T and Verizon reaching an agreement earlier this month with the Biden administration to delay the deployment of their 5G C-band technology near airports for two weeks.

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The deployment of the technology has the airline industry worried that 5G signals cause radar altimeter interference, which can result in loss of or incorrect radar altitude information.

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The Air Line Pilots Association, International, has warned its pilots that the roll out on Wednesday without proper mitigations put in place "undermines flight safety and disrupts the entire aviation system."

In the letter on Monday, the airline executives said the damage caused by the deployment of 5G will be worse than they original anticipated.

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"Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded," they said. "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."

They added that the deployment will also affect other safety and navigational systems on modern planes as radio altimeters provide critical information they require.

"Airplane manufacturers have informed us that there are huge swaths of the operating fleet that may need to be indefinitely grounded," they said. "In addition to the chaos caused domestically, this lack of usable wide-body aircraft could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."

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The letter was signed by the executives of Alaska Air Group, American Airlines, Atlas Air Worldwide, Delta Air Lines, FedEx Express, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines Holdings, UPS Airlines and Airlines for America.

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Capt. Joe DePete, president of ALPA, tweeted that they have warned the FCC about 5G for years and have been ignored.

"Pilots will decide when it's safe to fly. Period," he said.

The trade association Airlines for America has said that if 5G was available near airports in 2019, 345,000 airline flights with 32 million passengers and 5,4000 cargo flights would have been delayed, diverted or cancelled.

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