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U.S. Airlines Warn of 'Catastrophic Disruptions' From 5G Network Rollouts

"The vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded," unless safety concerns linked to 5G network rollouts are addressed, airline bosses have warned.

U.S. Airline stocks slumped lower Tuesday following yet another weekend of flight chaos and a warning on the impact of 5G networks on aircraft navigation systems.

AT&T  (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report and Verizon  (VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report are set to roll out their 5G networks Wednesday -- following a two week delay to assess safety concerns -- even as the Federal Aviation Administration warns they could interfere with aircraft instruments and impact landing visibility. AT&T and Verizon have vowed to create 'buffer zones' in and around airports to limit disruption, noting that similar rollouts in other countries went smoothly.

Airlines for America, an industry lobby group comprised of all the major domestic carriers, says the rollouts could create "“catastrophic disruptions” if the 3.5 GHz C-band based 5G networks are operating within 2 miles of any aircraft and is urging Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to immediately address their concerns.

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"Multiple modern safety systems on aircraft will be deemed unusable causing a much larger problem than what we knew," airline CEOs said in an open letter to the FAA that warned of "significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies."

United Airlines  (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report was marked 1% lower in pre-market trading at $46.30 each, while American Airlines  (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group, Inc. Report fell 1.25% to $18.26 each. Delta Air Lines DAL was marked 2% lower at $39.51 each.

The FAA said Sunday that it will ask operators of Boeing 787s to "take additional precautions when landing on wet or snowy runways at airports where 5G C-band service is deployed."

"During the two-week delay in deploying new 5G service, safety experts determined that 5G interference with the aircraft’s radio altimeter could prevent engine and braking systems from transitioning to landing mode, which could prevent an aircraft from stopping on the runway," the FAA said in a statement.

The dispute follows another weekend of storm-led travel chaos, with more than 8,000 flights delayed and another 3,000 cancelled following snow and severe cold in the U.S. northeast, according to data from FlightAware.