Emirates suspends some flights to US over 5G concerns

Flights to New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC have not been affected

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Emirates airline has said it will suspend flights to a number of US destinations as of 9.01am on Wednesday.

The company said the decision was related to "operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the US".

Affected destinations include Boston, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco and Seattle.

Passengers will still be accepted for travel if they are flying to New York (JFK), Los Angeles or Washington DC (IAD).

The news was announced on the airline's website.

It is not known when flights will resume.

Affected passengers have been advised to contact the Emirates Call Centre or their travel agent to rebook their flight.

On Tuesday, AT&T and Verizon said they would temporarily delay turning on some wireless towers near key US airport runways to avert a looming aviation crisis after discussions with President Joe Biden's administration on Tuesday.

Airlines said thousands of flights could be grounded or delayed if the systems are introduced near major airports. Airlines in India and Japan have already moved to cancel many US flights.

How does 5G affect aviation?

Telecom giants spent tens of billions of dollars to obtain 5G licences, but as the launch date approached aviation industry groups raised concerns about possible interference with aircrafts' radio altimeters – which can operate at the same frequencies – particularly in bad weather.

Radio altimeters give precise readings of the height above the ground on approach and help with automated landings, as well as verifying the plane has landed before allowing reverse thrust. Altimeters operate in the 4.2-4.4 GHz range and the concern is that the auctioned frequencies sit too close to this range.

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Updated: January 19, 2022, 9:47 AM