Airlines resume US flights amid adjusted 5G rollout

The FAA has issued new approvals for low-visibility landings at airports affected by 5G deployments.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert
2 min read
emirates plane

Emirates planes will be landing across the US once more.

DFW Airport

Emirates will resume its flights into the US after concerns over 5G deployments planned for Jan. 19 forced several international airlines to cancel some flights. Emirates will resume flights to Chicago, Orlando, Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth, Seattle and Newark on Friday, and Houston, San Francisco and Boston on Saturday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday it has issued new approvals allowing around 78% of commercial planes in the US to perform low-visibility landings at airports affected by Verizon and AT&T's 5G rollouts. 

Read more: Verizon and AT&T's C-band 5G upgrade: From airports to rollouts, the latest on what you need to know

"The FAA is working diligently to determine which altimeters are reliable and accurate where 5G is deployed in the United States," the FAA said in a statement Thursday. "We anticipate some altimeters will be too susceptible to 5G interference. To preserve safety, aircraft with those altimeters will be prohibited from performing low-visibility landings where 5G is deployed because the altimeter could provide inaccurate information."

Emirates had previously canceled flights into San Francisco, Dallas-Fort Worth, Orlando, Seattle, Miami, Newark, Houston, Chicago and Boston "until further notice" due to the planned 5G switch-on around those airports. Japan Airlines and ANA also canceled flights on Tuesday, but resumed them Wednesday when the FAA issued approvals allowing some planes to make low-visibility landings.

The cancellations came after airlines on Monday warned of significant travel disruptions if the planned launch of C-band 5G on Wednesday proceeded.

AT&T would "temporarily defer" turning on some of its 5G towers near airport runways, a spokesperson said Tuesday, adding that the FAA has "not utilized the two years they've had to responsibly plan for this deployment."

"We are frustrated by the FAA's inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it to do so in a timely manner," the AT&T statement said. 

Verizon said it would also "voluntarily" limit its C-band 5G deployments around airports.