EVERETT, Wash. - Just a week ago, both AT&T and Verizon announced that they will delay the start of 5G wireless service near some airports, as concerns persist over the risk of interference with aircraft technology, which could cause massive flight disruptions.
However, officials with the Paine Field Airport in Everett say that Alaska Airlines has already had to cancel "roughly 30" flights due to 5G, according to Brett Smith, with Propeller Airports.
"Unfortunately, our hometown carrier has had to cancel flights due to 5G and weather. Please check your flight status with Alaska Air before heading out to Paine Field this week. This is out of our control, and we are as frustrated as you are," Paine Field tweeted on Monday.
On Tuesday, the first four Alaska Airlines departures were again canceled due to the fog.
"Due to continued fog, a replacement flight from Everett may not be available for the next 2-3 days," Alaska wrote on its web site staying that a waiver is in effect for passengers impacted.
The new 5G C-band, when deployed within two miles of an airport, interferes with vital flight technology used to navigate aircraft during challenging weather and low visibility. As a result, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued flight restrictions that limit the ability of some aircraft to land in certain weather conditions, according to Alaska Airlines.
Alaska’s Boeing and Airbus aircraft have been cleared for low visibility landings by the FAA. However, some of the regional jets have not yet been cleared at certain airports and are still subject to restrictions on landing/takeoff during low visibility conditions that were put in place before the agreement to limit 5G. This is causing cancellations, delays and diversions, according to Alaska Airlines.
"The bottom line is, this is outrageous. Our cancellations are a direct effect of 5G," Smith said.
AT&T said it would delay turning on new cell towers around runways at some airports, but did not say how many. They also say they will work with federal regulators to settle the dispute.
A short time later, Verizon said it will launch its 5G network but added, "we have voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports."
The announcements by the wireless carriers came after the airline industry issued a dire warning about the impact a new type of 5G service would have on flights. CEOs of the nation's largest airlines said interference with aircraft systems would be worse than they originally thought, making many flights impossible.
According to Alaska Airline's website under travel advisories, "Flights to/from Everett – Paine Field (PAE) may be delayed or canceled due to fog in Western Washington. FAA-issued flight restrictions This indicates a link to an external site that may not follow the same accessibility or privacy policies as Alaska Airlines. The new 5G C-Band signal have limited our ability to land certain aircraft in low visibility."
Earlier in January, FAA officials released a buffer zone list of 50 airports, where wireless companies have agreed to turn off transmitters and make other adjustments near airports on the list for six months "to minimize potential 5G interference with sensitive aircraft instruments used in low-visibility landings."
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was on that list, but Paine Field was not.
"It is unfortunate that the appropriate government agencies have failed to adequately prepare for the 5G rollout and are now inconveniencing tens of thousands of people throughout the country," Smith said.
If your Alaska Airlines flight was impacted at Paine Field
If you rebook your flight with the same origin and destination and travel between now and January 31, 2022, there is no change in the original fare you paid, according to Alaska Airlines.
Due to continued fog, a replacement flight from Everett may not be available for the next two to three days.
If you purchased a refundable ticket, or your flight has been canceled, you can request a full refund.
"Be assured that we are working with the appropriate authorities on local and federal levels, along with our partners at Snohomish County, to assist in bringing this situation to a resolution as soon as possible," Paine Field tweeted.
FOX 6 Milwaukee contributed to this report
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