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5G Launches in US Without Huge Impact on Asia Carriers

ANA and Japan Airlines said they were restoring service on Thursday after assurances from the US Federal Aviation Administration

The new service will use Boeing aircraft, providing "comfortable" space between seats, and the fares will be at "an affordable price". Photo: Reuters


US telecom giants AT&T and Verizon began 5G service on Wednesday without major disruptions to flights after the launch of the new wireless technology was scaled back.

Both ANA and Japan Airlines said they were restoring service on Thursday after assurances from regulators at the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“Operation of ANA flights from January 20 will follow the normal schedule based on FAA notification that there is no safety issue with the operation of Boeing 777 aircraft to the US airports that we serve,” a statement from ANA president Yuji Hirako said.

Emirates and Air India also cancelled some flights from Asian destinations.

There were at least 261 flights cancelled on Wednesday, according to the FlightAware app. That figure is less than the 538 reported last Wednesday, although the number could climb through the day.


Possible Interference

The telecom giants spent tens of billions of dollars to obtain 5G licences last year but aviation industry groups have raised concerns about possible interference with aircraft radio altimeters, which can operate at the same frequencies and are vital for landing at night or in bad weather.

On Tuesday, both AT&T and Verizon agreed to scale back the launch of 5G near airports following an outcry from US airlines, who warned of mass disruptions.

The FAA said Wednesday that it has now approved 62% of the US commercial fleet to perform low-visibility landings at airports with 5G, an increase from 45% on Sunday.

“The FAA also continues to work with manufacturers to understand how radar altimeter data is used in other flight control systems. Passengers should check with their airlines for latest flight schedules,” the agency added.


• AFP with additional editing by George Russell




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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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