AT&T will delay activating its 5G network on a "limited number of towers" near some airport runways following warnings from US airlines, a spokesperson for the telecommunications company said Tuesday.

The move comes after the chief executives of the largest airlines in the United States warned Monday of a "catastrophic disruption" to travel and shipping operations if the rollout set for Wednesday went as planned. Verizon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Verizon and AT&T have already twice delayed the launch of their new C-Band 5G service, due to warnings from airlines and aircraft manufacturers concerned that the new system might interfere with the devices planes use to measure altitude.

AT&T will delay the implementation of its 5G newtork on a "limited number" of towers near airports following warnings from US airlines AT&T will delay the implementation of its 5G newtork on a "limited number" of towers near airports following warnings from US airlines Photo: AFP / Josep LAGO

AT&T described its latest move as voluntary and temporary, and added it is working with airline industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) "to provide further information about our 5G deployment, since they have not utilized the two years they've had to responsibly plan for this deployment," the AT&T spokesperson said.

"We are launching our advanced 5G services everywhere else as planned with the temporary exception of this limited number of towers."

The FAA said Sunday it had approved some transponders to be safely operated within areas where 5G will be deployed, clearing "as many as 48 of the 88 airports most directly affected by 5G C-Band interference."

But the airlines are worried that the remaining limitations at those airports, as well as a large amount of equipment still uncertified, could trigger a crisis that would ground thousands of flights.