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A ramp agent enters a cargo plane operated by UPS Airlines, one of the signatories to the letter © Jon Cherry/Getty Images

The impending rollout of 5G high-speed telecommunications services could lead to flights across the United States, the largest US airlines warned on Monday, as they urged government agencies to intervene to avoid “chaos” for passengers and “incalculable” disruptions to supply chains.

“The harm that will result from the January 19 deployment is far worse than we originally anticipated,” Airlines for America, an industry lobby group, warned Monday.

His letter, signed by the largest US carriers as well as UPS Airlines and FedEx Express, highlighted the possibility of 5G services interfering with sensitive equipment that planes use to take off and land.

They called on President Joe Biden’s administration to block the rollout of 5G in towers about two miles from airport runways that the Federal Aviation Administration has identified as prone to disruption.

“Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of travelers and shippers will essentially be grounded,” the lobby group wrote to officials including Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, and Pete Buttigieg, Transportation Secretary.

The White House and the Transportation Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters first reported on the warning from major US carriers.

AT&T and Verizon had planned to launch their 5G services on December 5, but delayed the launch for a month to allow time for security reviews. The two telecommunications groups initially rejected a request from regulators to delay their rollout for another two weeks until January 19, but later agreed to do so.

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