Fog and 5G cancel air travel at Paine Field

Jan 25, 2022, 3:32 PM | Updated: Jan 26, 2022, 7:41 am
Paine Field...
Planes at Paine Field. (File photo)
(File photo)

Alaska Airlines canceled all flights in and out of Paine Field on Tuesday amid foggy weather and concerns about 5G.

Horizon Air, which is owned by Alaska Airlines, is currently the sole airline operating commercial flights out of Paine Field.

One of the main issues is the new 5G network that’s causing conflicts between wireless carriers and airlines. The 5G rollout has led to flight cancellations across the country.

Last week, AT&T and Verizon agreed to pause activating the new technology near larger airports, such as SEA in SeaTac.

Paine Field in Everett is a much smaller airport and 5G wireless technology has been rolled out in the area.

Airlines say 5G interferes with flight technology used to navigate during bad weather and when there’s poor visibility.

That would be a concern on a day like Tuesday when there is thick fog.

On its blog, Alaska Airlines said: “In a nutshell, 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.”

Alaska said the FAA cleared its Boeing and Airbus aircraft for low visibility landings, but its regional jets used by Horizon Air have not yet been cleared at certain airports and are still under restrictions during low visibility conditions such as dense fog.

As a result, Horizon Air was forced to cancel all commercial flights in and out of Paine Field.

Wireless carriers have disputed the findings of the airlines and the FAA.

In a tweet, Paine Field expressed frustration and said to contact Alaska Airlines to check flight status.

AT&T and Verizon said that 90% of their ultrafast 5G service launched last week, but cell towers within a 2-mile radius of larger airport runways will remain off for now.

Alaska Airlines Media Relations Manager Cailee Olson released the following statement Tuesday:

Alaska canceled 8 flights on January 25 related to the activation of 5G C-Band service near the nation’s airports.

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.

Alaska’s Boeing and Airbus aircraft have been cleared for low visibility landings by the FAA. However, our regional Embraer E175 jets have not yet been cleared at certain airports. They are still subject to restrictions on landings and departures during low visibility conditions, such as dense fog or winter weather, that were put in place before the agreement to limit 5G.

The E175 jets are flown by Alaska Airlines’ sister carrier Horizon Air and Alaska’s partner SkyWest. It’s possible there could be additional cancellations, delays or diversions of some Horizon flights and those flown by SkyWest for Alaska at airports with low visibility that remain under FAA restrictions.

For those guests who have been impacted, a flexible travel policy is now in effect. It allows our guests to change or cancel their travel arrangements using our self-service system.

We know this situation is frustrating and disruptive to those impacted and we’re asking the government to ensure an effective, safe, reliable and sustainable solution to get all our aircraft back to normal operations.

We encourage guests with future travel scheduled to check the status of their flights before leaving for the airport. Guests can do this at alaskaair.com or on the Alaska mobile app. If a flight is impacted, guests can manage their travel online.

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(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)...
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Fog and 5G cancel air travel at Paine Field