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Agent on the ramp enters a cargo plane operated by UPS Airlines, one of the signatories of the letter © Jon Cherry / Getty Images

The immediate introduction of high-speed 5G telecommunications services could ground flights across the U.S., the largest U.S. airlines warned on Monday, urging government agencies to intervene to avoid “chaos” for passengers and “priceless” supply chain disruptions.

“The damage that will result from the introduction on January 19 is much worse than we originally expected,” the lobbying group in the Airlines for America industry warned on Monday.

His letter, signed by major U.S. carriers as well as UPS Airlines and FedEx Express, points to the possibility that 5G services are interfering with sensitive equipment used by planes to take off and land.

They called on the administration of President Joe Biden to block the introduction of 5G on towers located about two miles from the airfields that the Federal Aviation Administration has identified as prone to disruption.

“Unless our major hubs are approved for flying, the vast majority of passengers and shipowners will be grounded,” a lobby group wrote to officials including Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, and Pete Buttigie, transport minister.

The White House and the transportation department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters was the first to report a warning to major U.S. carriers.

AT&T and Verizon planned to launch their 5G services on December 5, but postponed the launch for a month to have time for security checks. The two telecommunications groups initially rejected the regulator’s request to postpone their introduction for another two weeks until January 19, but then agreed to it.


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