Travelers in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, New England, and Northeast regions of the US and Toronto should anticipate disruption associated with the passage of a polar vortex, an extreme cold front from the Arctic. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin are likely to be most affected by the weather system, which is moving southeast and will bring strong winds and sub-zero wind chills through tomorrow. Extreme temperatures are liable to disrupt flights at airports serving affected regions, as well as road travel on major highways.
Today through February 4, passengers of Viva Aerobus (VB) should reconfirm flights after numerous cancellations stemming from an unscheduled technical review of eight of the airline’s aircraft.
All inbound travel to Venezuela should be deferred through February 4 due to the ongoing political crisis and associated unrest. Travelers in country should minimize non-essential movement. Opposition-led protests have continued in Caracas and other urban centers following demonstrations across the country yesterday. Juan Guaido, the National Assembly-recognized interim President, has called for peaceful demonstrations at 6:00 PM local time on Saturday, February 2. A rival pro-government protest is also planned on the same day along Avenida Bolivar in Caracas.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
On Saturday, February 2, travelers Kinshasa should avoid a planned rally by the opposition Lamuka coalition at Place Ste Therese in N’djili district. The demonstration, which will begin at 11:00 AM local time, is the coalition’s first official event since the inauguration of Felix Tshisekedi, of the opposition Coalition for Change, as President on January 24. Former Presidential candidate Martin Fayulu is expected to attend, and a heightened security force presence and local disruption are likely around the venue.
Today, travelers in Accra should exercise caution in the Ayawaso West-Wuogon district following a shooting incident at Bawaleshie Presby School during an ongoing by-election. A group linked to one of the parties contesting the election reportedly opened fire at a polling station at the school after a man was accused of taking photographs; at least two people were injured. Security forces are on the scene and the situation has normalized. A heightened security presence should be expected throughout the day in Ayawaso West-Wuogon, particularly at polling stations and election-related gatherings.
Yesterday, the militant Sunni Muslim Jaish ul-Adl group claimed responsibility for a twin bomb attack on a police station in Zahedan on January 29; three policemen were injured. The first explosion was caused by a grenade while the second was caused by an improvised device. Non-essential travel to Sistan-e Balochistan should be deferred due to the threat posed by militancy.
Today, another protest against a controversial new tax reform is planned for 5:00 PM local time at the Fourth Circle in Amman. The “We’re Not Silenced” coalition is calling for the lifting of the last tax increase, a tax exemption for agricultural and industrial crafts, and the stabilization of electricity and fuel prices. All political rallies should be avoided as a precaution to mitigate the incidental risks from unrest.
A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed in Mocimboa do Praia district in response to continued militant attacks by the extremist al-Sunnah group. Three foreign suspects linked to the group were arrested on January 25 during security operations in the district. On January 24, one person was killed in Nandimba village, close to the Tanzanian border. Al-Sunnah attacks have been occurring since October 2017 in Cabo Delgado. Travelers should abide by the curfew and exercise caution in Mocimboa do Praia district.
Non-essential travel to areas within 20 miles of the Yemeni border should be deferred after Saudi Air Defenses announced yesterday that they had intercepted a drone near Abha and a ballistic missile near Khamis Mushait. There were no injuries or significant material damage, though debris from the missile landed on the outskirts of Khamis Mushait. Saudi Air Defenses also stated that both were launched by the Yemen-based Zaydi Houthi group.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
Smoke from bushfires has lowered the air quality in several parts of Tasmania. Authorities have put in place Emergency Warnings and Smoke Alerts to warn residents of the impending health risks. Polluted air can cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and irritation of the eyes and nose. To reduce the risk of potential health problems, travelers are advised to minimize exposure by limiting time and physical activity outdoors.
Travelers should maintain flexible itineraries during the ongoing winter season, which usually lasts through February. Dense fog can periodically cause significant disruption to flights, trains, and overland journeys. Roads in mountainous terrain may close for long periods due to avalanches and landslides. Heavy fog has previously affected flights at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) as well as at Biju Patnaik Airport (BBI) in Bhubaneswar and Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) in Bangalore. Heavy snowfall and landslides prompt intermittent closures of the Srinagar-Jammu Highway.
Today, travelers in Karachi should avoid the area around the Jang Press Headquarters on I.I Chundrigarh Road due to an ongoing protest by the Joint Workers Action Committee. The protest against job losses in the media industry has led to traffic disruption in the vicinity. I.I Chundrigarh Road is currently closed, and traffic diversions are in place. Philippines Passengers transiting Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) should anticipate additional screening measures and possible associated delays in the coming months. The US Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration released a Security Advisory, saying that security standards at the airport did not match those established by the International Civil Aviation Organization. The Department of Transportation acknowledged the validity of the assessment and said it would follow the US agencies’ recommendations. Related measures are likely to include new screening equipment and enhanced checks.
Today, travelers in Brussels should plan routes bypassing a march by environmental activists to minimize inconvenience. Demonstrators were due to gather at Gare du Nord at 10:30 AM local time and march towards Gare du Midi via Pacheco and Lemonnier boulevards, where the event is due to end by 12:30 PM local time. Protesters are calling on the EU and the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The event, the fourth to take place in the city during January, is likely to be well attended and cause local disruption.
Travelers in urban centers should continue to exercise caution during weekly protests by supporters of the “Yellow Vests” movement. On Saturday, February 2, demonstrators in Paris will march from Place Felix Eboue towards Place de la Republique at 12:00 PM local time to pay tribute to protesters injured in previous rallies. Another “Yellow Night” protest will take place at 5:00 PM local time at Place de la Republique. This is the 12th consecutive weekend of Yellow Vests protests. Related gatherings are liable to be forcibly dispersed by authorities.
Biarritz Pays Basque Airport (BIQ) is due to close for maintenance between 9:45 PM local time on February 3 and 5:30 PM local time on March 4. Passengers transiting the airport during this period should reconfirm their flights. Air France will operate a shuttle bus service for its customers between the facility and Pau Pyrenees Airport (PUF), 73 miles to the east, during the closure.
Today, passengers transiting Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN) should reconfirm flights after the main runway was closed due to heavy snow in the region. The runway has since reopened, and flight schedules are returning to normal; however, travelers should expect residual delays as authorities clear passenger backlogs.
Travelers should anticipate disruption and follow all official directives amid widespread reports of bomb threats against several public institutions. All such threats thus far have been hoaxes, but have resulted in evacuations of affected premises, causing disruption. Areas that have been affected thus far include Siberian, Far Eastern and Volga federal districts, as well as St Petersburg.
Tomorrow and Saturday, February 2, travelers in Catalonia should avoid protests over the transfer of imprisoned proCatalan independence politicians to Madrid for trial. Tomorrow, independence supporters are due to gather in solidarity with the prisoners along the route of the transfer convoy. In Barcelona, demonstrators will assemble at Jardinets de Gracia. On Saturday, February 2, protesters will gather outside the Government and Parliament buildings in Plaza de Sant Jaume. The detained politicians’ trial is due to start on February 5, and further related demonstrations are likely.