All Qatar-US flights will operate as normal until further updates regarding the 5G deployment concerns are announced.
After concerns rose globally over the rollout of 5G signals disrupting flights in the United States, Qatar Airways has reassured its passengers that there are currently no changes to any flight on its 12 US routes.
The national carrier stated that there will only be ‘minor delays’ anticipated on some return flights from the US to Doha, but no cancelation or rescheduling will occur. However, it remains unclear which flights exactly are being delayed and if it’s related to the 5G concerns.
“We will continue to monitor any developments relating to the introduction of 5G in the US throughout the course of the next 24 hours and will ensure all the latest information regarding the status of US flights is updated on our website at qatarairways.com,” the airline said in a travel alert.
“QatarAirways’ 15 flights today to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco & Washington are operating as scheduled – we continue to operate a reliable schedule for our passengers,’ it added in a tweet.
What’s the concern over the 5G Rollout about?
Thousands of passengers were forced to halt their travel plans to the US from several countries, including India and the United Arab Emirates, after their flights were canceled due to the introduction of a new 5G service in the states.
It all started when two US telecom giants—AT&T and Verizon —announced that they will be activating their brand new 5G networks from January 19, which would give their customers faster internet speed.
However, the announcement flared several concerns from airlines and aircraft manufacturers from around the world, stating that the 5G frequencies could affect the airplanes’ radiometers, especially during bad weather.
A 2020 RTCA report cited by the SAIB stated that the network reveals “a major risk that 5G telecommunications systems in the 3.7–3.98 GHz band will cause harmful interference to radar altimeters on all types of civil aircraft.”
It also added that the “risk is widespread and has the potential for broad impacts to aviation operations in the United States, including the possibility of catastrophic failures leading to multiple fatalities, in the absence of appropriate mitigations.”
The Federal Aviation Administration has also wanted against the 5G wireless interference, stating the update could affect sensitive airplane instruments such as radio altimeters and significantly hamper low-visibility operations.
“There will be some impacts due to the limitations of some radio altimeters,” the FAA said.
A recent statement from United Airlines also said that “when deployed next to runways, the 5G signals could interfere with the key safety equipment that pilots rely on to take off and land in inclement weather.”
The concern pushed major international carriers to cancel their flights to the United States, including Emirates, Air India, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways. Emirates alone suspended flights to nine airports, including Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Delay, but what next?
After concerns started gaining traction, both telecom giants announced that the activation of 5G towers near some US airports will be delayed for two weeks to try and resolve the ‘differences.’
Sources told Reuters that Verizon will “temporarily not turn on about 500 towers near airports [–] or less than 10% of their planned deployment, while the carriers and the administration work on a permanent solution, sources briefed on the matter said.”
However, details of the agreement or the length of the pause were not disclosed.
For now, Qatar-US flights remain operating until the differences are settled, but it is still unclear when will both sides reach an agreement.