Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways resume US flights after 5G rollout

Two major Japanese airlines said on Wednesday they would restore flights to the United States after the rollout of 5G mobile in the United States prompted some foreign carriers to cancel many flights to the United States.

The decision by AT&T and Verizon Communications to delay the commissioning of powerful new telecommunications masts near major airports, following airline protests over possible interference, came too late to avert a wave of cancellations on Wednesday.

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways said on Wednesday they would resume Boeing 777 service to the United States on Thursday after announcing cancellations earlier based on advice from Boeing.

Both airlines said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told them there were no safety concerns after the reduced wireless rollout.

United Airlines said Wednesday it expects only “minor disruption at some airports due to remaining 5G restrictions” and welcomed the Biden administration’s deal with AT&T and Verizon “to avoid industry-wide cancellations.” aeronautics”.

Airlines across Asia and several in the Middle East and Europe had said they were canceling some flights or changing models, with much of the initial disruption hitting the Boeing 777, for decades a workhorse of airlines. long-distance air travel.

Emirates of Dubai, the biggest user of the Boeing mini-jumbo, launched a series of industry cancellations or aircraft changes on Tuesday, saying it would suspend nine US routes.

Veteran airline president Tim Clark told CNN the carrier only became aware of the extent of the problem on Tuesday and called it “one of the most delinquent and utterly irresponsible episodes.” he saw, tweeted a CNN reporter.

The disruption caps a week-long dispute between airlines and telecom companies over the speed of rolling out 5G mobile services in the United States, mirrored by tensions between regulators in economically sensitive industries.

US airlines and the FAA have warned that the frequencies and transmit strength deployed in the US could interfere with accurate height readings needed for inclement weather landings on some airliners.

European regulators say no risk has been found elsewhere.

U.S. mobile carriers agreed on Tuesday to delay 5G activation near major airports, but are continuing on Wednesday with the broader U.S. rollout of services designed to serve tens of millions of people.

Late Tuesday, the FAA began updating guidance on which airports and aircraft models would be affected, which should significantly reduce the impact of the nearly 1,500 5G restrictions notices previously issued by the regulator.

Despite this, dozens of flights had to be canceled or changed, sending shares of European long-haul carriers down around 2%.

“The last-minute postponement came too late to prevent crews from being sent out for today’s (return) flight. It made it a nightmare,” said a pilot from a major European airline.

OUT OF SEASON

Analysts said a drop in long-haul flights caused by pandemic border restrictions would limit the immediate impact, however.

“It’s low season, so in January or February airlines will lose money and that’s not counting the impact of the pandemic. At the moment they are fighting for survival,” said James Halstead, managing partner of the British company Aviation Strategy.

“Where it could hurt is that some airlines use the same long-haul aircraft to carry cargo,” he added.

Korean Air Lines said it had changed planes on six US passenger and cargo flights, Taiwan’s China Airlines postponed some flights and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific said it would change plane types if necessary .

Radio altimeters give accurate height above ground readings on approach and help with automated landings, as well as verifying that a jet has landed before allowing reverse thrust.

Boeing said it was working with all parties on a “long-term data-driven solution that ensures all models of commercial aircraft can operate safely during the 5G rollout.”

Last year, the 777 was the second most used widebody aircraft on flights to and from US airports with about 210,000 flights, behind the older 767, according to data from FlightRadar24.

In other disruptions, Germany’s Lufthansa said it had canceled a flight and was changing planes to others.

Air India said its four US flights would be scaled back or undergo aircraft type changes from Wednesday.

Singapore Airlines said it had changed aircraft used on some US routes.

British Airways replaced its daily flight to Los Angeles with an Airbus A380 from the regular Boeing 777 service and canceled or changed other US flights.

Cargo airlines AeroLogic and Polar have diverted from Cincinnati to Atlanta, according to web tracker FlightRadar24 which said Atlanta was not subject to 5G restrictions.

Not all 777 flights were affected. Emirates said it would continue to fly the 777 to Washington, which is not yet impacted.

Qatar Airways and Air France said US routes were operating as planned and Israel’s El Al and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said their services were unaffected. Kenya Airways said it was taking the precautions outlined by Boeing and the FAA.