Grounded planes

5G Could Cause Problems for the Airline Industry

Yet Another Challenge for Airlines

As if the airline industry wasn’t dealing with enough already as COVID-19 cases rise, it is now worrying about interference from 5G wireless services. Executives at the nation’s leading airlines, including Southwest (LUV), say 5G services being introduced by providers like AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) could lead to massive issues for airlines.

Aviation industry leaders say 5G services could interfere with sensitive plane and helicopter equipment like electronics and radio altimeters, making it impossible to land in low visibility. As a result, more flights would be delayed or canceled when bad weather struck. The White House, regulators, and industry trade groups are having a difficult time reaching an agreement about this issue.

Airline Industry Can’t Handle More Delays

The stakes are high for the airline industry which has not only dealt with shutdowns during the early days of the pandemic but with massive spikes in demand that were difficult to handle. In the fall, Southwest canceled over 2,000 flights in one weekend amid pilot shortages and bad weather. The industry estimates cancellations and delayed flights because of 5G interfering with planes could cost as much as $2.1 billion in flight disruptions.

During a Senate hearing last week, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the near-term 5G deployment is his biggest concern. The Airlines for America trade group also raised worries, predicting that 5G service could cause disruptions for 350,000 flights per year.

Wireless Companies Are Winning … So Far

The aviation industry wants 5G power levels to be more restricted near airports, but mobile providers, the White House, and the FCC don’t seem open to that. While talks are ongoing with the White House and the FCC, the aviation industry expects disruptions to ensue next year.

Wireless companies, which paid $81 billion for the rights to the airwaves in question, say issues will not be nearly as bad as airlines are claiming. Wireless providers say 5G is safe and does not interfere with aviation in the roughly 40 countries which have already deployed the technology. In the coming weeks, debates about this issue will continue.

Things are changing daily within the financial world. Sign up for the SoFi Daily Newsletter to get the latest news updates in your inbox every weekday.

Sign up

Please understand that this information provided is general in nature and shouldn’t be construed as a recommendation or solicitation of any products offered by SoFi’s affiliates and subsidiaries. In addition, this information is by no means meant to provide investment or financial advice, nor is it intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision or recommendation to buy or sell any asset. Keep in mind that investing involves risk, and past performance of an asset never guarantees future results or returns. It’s important for investors to consider their specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile before making an investment decision.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. These links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement. No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this content.
Communication of SoFi Wealth LLC an SEC Registered Investment Adviser
SoFi isn’t recommending and is not affiliated with the brands or companies displayed. Brands displayed neither endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks and service marks referenced are property of their respective owners.

All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender