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5G Flight Disruption Eases as Emirates Blasts U.S. Rollout

INTERNATIONAL: Disruption to U.S.-bound air travel has caused by the rollout of 5G services in the United States eased on Wednesday, 19 January as authorities approved more flights, but a top airline has warned "irresponsible" regulatory confusion would be felt internationally for days.

Airlines and telecom companies have been at loggerheads over the deployment of 5G mobile services over concerns that the powerful signals could interfere with airplane systems.

The Middle East and Europe, carriers across Asia have canceled flights to the United States or switched planes at the last minute on Tuesday , 18 January and Wednesday ,19 January, disrupting travel for thousands of passengers, over safety concerns caused by the 5G deployment.

But Japanese carriers has said late on Wednesday they would restore canceled flights and U.S. airlines have said thousands of planes were operating normally after two telecom carriers have agreed to delay the rollout at key airports.

The decision late on Tuesday by AT&T and Verizon Communications to delay switching on new telecom masts near key airports, just hours ahead of a wider U.S. rollout, came too late to avoid a ripple of cancellations.

The Airport Council International has warned the effects could be felt for weeks.

The Vice President for Safety and Regulatory Affairs, Chris Oswald says passengers and shippers should expect delays and disruptions until these issues are fully resolved.

Much of the initial disruption hit the Boeing 777, for decades a workhorse of long-distance air travel.

Dubai's Emirates, the world's largest international passenger carrier and the largest 777 operator, hit out at "mixed messages" as it suspended nine U.S. destinations.

The airline's longstanding president Tim Clark says that the extent of the safety concerns until Tuesday and let rip at what he called "one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible" episodes in his career.

United Airlines, by contrast, has said it was forecasting only "minor disruptions" due to remaining 5G restrictions.

International carriers are particularly exposed because of the lead time needed to prepare flights and pre-position crews ready to fly intercontinental jets home, experts said.

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