Travel plans for thousands of passengers, including those traveling to India, were disrupted after airlines canceled or shortened many flights to and from the United States amid fears from the airline industry that 5G technology could disrupt crucial navigation tools.
Several international airlines, including Air India, have announced that they will cancel flights to the US from Wednesday.
The US aviation regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Jan. 14 that “5G interference with the aircraft’s radio altimeter could prevent engine and braking systems from switching to landing mode, which could prevent an aircraft from stopping on the runway.”
Altimeter measures the height of the aircraft above the ground. The band on which the altimeter works is close to the one on which the 5G system works. American telecom companies paid the American government $81 billion in 2021 for the right to use those frequencies, the so-called C-Band.
The C-band service, which offers faster speeds and wider coverage, is set to be enabled from Wednesday. The frequency issue appeared to affect the popular Boeing 777, a long-haul and wide-body aircraft.
Air India tweeted on Tuesday that due to the deployment of 5G communications in the US, “our operations to the US from India will be curtailed/reviewed with aircraft type change effective January 19, 2022.” Air India said on Twitter that it will not operate eight flights between India and the US on Wednesday “due to the deployment of 5G communications in the US”.
These eight Air India flights were: Delhi-New York, New York-Delhi, Delhi-Chicago, Chicago-Delhi, Delhi-San Francisco, San Francisco-Delhi, Delhi-Newark and Newark-Delhi.
Three airlines – American Airlines, Delta Airlines and Air India – currently operate direct flights between India and the US.
In addition to Air India, several other airlines have announced that they are canceling flights to the US over the issue of the 5G service deployment.
Emirates said that due to “operational concerns” related to the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the US at certain airports, it will suspend flights to Boston, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, from January 19 until further notice. Newark, Orlando, San Francisco and Seattle.
Delta said telcos agreed on Tuesday to limit the scope of Wednesday’s planned 5G rollout and delay deployment around certain U.S. airports. “While this is a positive move toward avoiding widespread disruptions to flight operations, some flight restrictions may remain,” Delta said it has joined other airlines in seeking the U.S. government’s postponement of the implementation of the move. the new 5G coverage in the C-band spectrum until there is more protection and guarantees against possible interference with aircraft radio altimeters.
The airline said the impact on air traffic could be immediate and significant, with direct consequences for passenger travel and freight transport.
“The country’s trade will grind to a halt,” CEOs of major airlines, including Delta CEO Ed Bastian, wrote in a letter coordinated by Airlines for America to government officials including Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and the chairman of the United Nations. Federal Communications Commission.
The sudden flight cancellations disrupted travel plans for thousands of abandoned passengers and there was little information about when flights would resume.
Jayant Raj had packed his bags and was ready to board the Air India flight from JFK International Airport in New York to New Delhi on Wednesday, which has now been cancelled. He said he was first informed of the flight cancellation on Tuesday afternoon via a tweet from Air India.
“I was traveling to India after four years and counting days to meet my parents and family. First, the COVID pandemic has restricted travel for almost two years and now there is this new problem,” he said. “Travel has now become very nerve-wracking and taxing.” With uncertainty about when the flight from JFK to Delhi will resume, Raj decided to take the Air India flight from Washington, which is still operational and departs Wednesday morning.
“I will be traveling to Washington from New York by train and see if I can get a ticket for the flight. This last minute cancellation and disruption is stressful, but I have to take a chance. If I can get a seat on the flight will be worth the hassle of an extra 5 hours of overnight travel to Washington,” he said.
Priyanka Seth, another passenger whose flight was canceled due to the 5G problem, said she was traveling to Mumbai and was eager to meet her parents after nearly five years.
“The pandemic as it is has made travel very stressful. Additional problems caused by such last minute cancellations are leaving so many people down,” Seth said.
Seth said she is looking for other flight options to Mumbai, but buying a ticket isn’t the only hurdle.
Seth, who has two young children, traveled alone and said she can only imagine how difficult it must be for parents traveling with young children or for the elderly traveling alone amid such travel interruptions and uncertainty.
New York-based social activist Prem Bhandari said Air India’s local staff at the JFK and Newark airports have been very helpful and have done “commendable work during this pandemic,” but the airline’s management is denying the current situation, caused by the 5G problem in a more effective way.
“I know people who have traveled by road/air to get a connection from Delhi to New York. Passengers waited more than two hours at the airport before being told the flight had been cancelled. They had It is not possible that the flight was canceled at the last minute,” he said, adding that the airlines would have known there could be disruptions and should have informed passengers well in advance.
“I am inundated with calls from people asking when flights will resume. Those traveling on January 19 are now stranded. Others traveling in the coming days and weeks are concerned about the uncertainty posed by the flight suspension. ” Bhandari, who is also chairman of REDIO – Saving Every Ailing Indian Overseas, said.
US mobile networks AT&T and Verizon have agreed to delay the rollout of their new 5G service at some airports, according to US media reports.
“We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to deploy 5G technology securely without disrupting airline services, and we urge it to do so in a timely manner,” DailyExpertNews was quoted as saying. Megan Ketterer, an AT&T spokesperson. , as said.
The Biden administration welcomed the delay, saying the “agreement will prevent potentially devastating disruptions to passenger traffic, freight operations and our economic recovery, while allowing more than 90 percent of wireless tower deployments to proceed as planned.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)