Business Travel Advisory
On Saturday, January 11, travelers in Chicago should plan routes bypassing the annual anti-abortion “March for Life” rally due to the risk of local disturbances. Participants are expected to gather at 1:00 PM local time at Daley Plaza. Various groups are organizing a counter protest near Dearborn and Washington streets at 12:00 PM local time. A heightened police presence around the gatherings is expected. Both events are likely to be well attended and will end at 3:00 PM local time. Travelers should expect road closures in the vicinity of the gatherings and allow additional time to complete journeys in order to minimize delays.
Today and Friday, January 10, travelers in Panama City and other urban centers should avoid all protests organized by the National Chamber of Transportation (Canatra). The demonstrations are being organized over a recent Supreme Court ruling that allows cash payment for ride-sharing services. A nationwide vigil will be held from 10:00 PM local time today through 6:00 AM local time tomorrow; no additional details are available. On Friday, January 10, protesters intend to gather at the regional and national offices of the Ground Transit and Transport Authority (ATTT) at 10:00 AM local time. Travelers should plan routes avoiding protests and reconfirm existing transportation arrangements prior to setting out.
Travelers in Puerto Rico should continue to exercise caution following a magnitude 6.4 earthquake which struck at 4:24 AM local time yesterday and has led to the declaration of a State of Emergency. The US Geological Survey reported that the tremblor struck offshore, three miles southwest of Tallaboa, at a depth of six miles. One person was killed, and eight people injured in the city of Ponce, while a Tsunami Warning was issued and later canceled. Around 50 aftershocks have been reported, the strongest having a magnitude of 5.8.
Travelers should exercise caution and avoid all gatherings linked to the political situation, which remains volatile. On January 5, Juan Guaido, the National Assemblyrecognized interim President, was prevented from entering the Parliament in Caracas, where he was expecting to be re-elected. Instead, President Nicolas Maduro’s surprise candidate, Luis Parra, was appointed the new head of the National Assembly. Guaido denounced this development and held an impromptu “parliamentary session” at the offices of the pro-opposition El Nacional newspaper in Caracas. The session was attended by opposition lawmakers who re-elected him as head of the National Assembly.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
Yesterday, the US Federal Aviation Administration established a no-fly zone covering Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. US airlines are prohibited from flying within this airspace. The no-fly zone is meant to prevent civilian planes from being mistaken for military aircraft. The FAA-imposed no-fly zone does not affect nonUS based carriers.
Today through Friday, January 10, travelers should anticipate fuel shortages and potential disruption due to a planned 72- hour strike by the Union of Truck Drivers of Burkina Faso (UCRB). Previous industrial actions organized by the UCRB caused significant shortages of goods and fuel in Ouagadougou and other urban centers. Similar disruption may occur during the upcoming event. Protesting truck drivers may also stage disruptive demonstrations, including blockades of major roads. Travelers should ensure they have adequate fuel supplies before setting out and should avoid all related protests as a precaution.
Travelers in Conakry and other main cities should anticipate and avoid further anti-government protests due to the risk of unrest. The opposition Front for the Defense of the Constitution alliance has called for fresh demonstrations after President Alpha Conde said that he would seek a referendum on a new constitution, as part of an effort to pursue another term in office. After thousands of protesters marched nationwide on January 6, civil society groups and opposition parties will start daily demonstrations beginning January 13.
Passengers transiting Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) should reconfirm flight itineraries and allow additional time if traveling to or from the airport to avoid delays. A Boeing 737-800 plane, belonging to Ukrainian International Airlines, crashed shortly following take-off at approximately 6:12 AM local time today. Flight PS752 had been headed for Kiev. No survivors have been found. The plane had carried 167 passengers and nine crew on board. Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, cited technical issues as the reason behind the crash. Following the incident, no disruption to the airport’s operations has been reported.
Travelers should monitor developments following international reports on January 5 that Iranian authorities would no longer abide by the nuclear enrichment limitations outlined under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The development coincided with escalating US-Iran tensions following the recent killing of Qassem Soleimani, a senior figure in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, by a US airstrike in Baghdad. Travelers should anticipate a heightened security force presence and enhanced scrutiny by authorities, especially towards US Nationals or those perceived to be linked to the US and its allies. All gatherings should be avoided as a precaution.
Today, travelers in Iraq should continue to stand fast and closely monitor regional developments following earlier Iranian airstrikes. Today, the Pentagon confirmed that Iran launched a total of 15 missiles into the country. Ten struck the Ain Al Assad Airbase in Anbar governorate, one fell near Erbil, and four others failed to reach their targets. Flights were temporarily canceled at Erbil International Airport (EBL). The incident will heighten US-Iran regional tensions.
Yesterday, four people were killed, and several others injured after suspected members of the Somalia-based Islamist extremist al-Shabab group attacked a police post in Dadaab. Two of the assailants were killed in a shootout with police, while the others attacked a communications mast during their retreat. Police managed to confiscate weapons and explosives following the attack.
Today through Friday, January 10, travelers in Bamako and other urban centers should plan journeys avoiding all gatherings linked to an ongoing countrywide teachers’ strike. While most such events are likely to pass off peacefully, precedents suggest that students and parents concerned over the interruption of the school year may stage counter-demonstrations. Potential venues for rallies in Bamako include the Bourse du Travail, Monument de l’independence, and the Aci 2000 neighborhood. Strike participants are demanding the enforcement of legislation on the status of teachers. Renewed strikes are scheduled for January 21-24, 27-31, and February 3-7 if this demand is not met.
On Friday, January 10, travelers in Bamako should avoid a planned demonstration against foreign military presence in Mali. Participants will gather at 2:00 PM local time on Boulevard de l’Independance to denounce the presence of both the UN Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) and French military presence in the country. Previous demonstrations have descended into local unrest, including the use of tear gas to disperse groups and property destruction. The demonstration is likely to be well attended.
On January 6, a fatal incident that occurred on the El Beid Bridge, which separates Gamboru from Fokotol, was not a militant attack as previously reported, but an accidental explosion. The explosion, which killed nine people and injured 26 others, was caused by children mistaking an unexploded bomb for scrap metal. The incident underlines the prevalence of weapons and bombs, and the persistent risk of violence in the region. All Travel to Borno should be deferred.
Today, travelers in Mogadishu should confirm the feasibility of movement following a car bombing that took place at approximately 10:00 AM local time in the vicinity of the Federal Parliament Building. The Islamist militant group alShabab claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least four people and injured ten others. Travelers should limit unnecessary movement outside the relatively secure airport compound.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
Travelers in coastal areas of the Northern Territory should plan journeys accounting for disruption through Saturday, January 11 due to the passage of a storm. The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast that a tropical low, located near the Wessel Islands, could intensify into a tropical cyclone by tomorrow morning. On its current trajectory, the weather system is forecast to approach and most likely cross the north coast on Friday, January 10 between Maningrida and Croker Island.
Travelers in Pilbara and Kimberley should plan journeys accounting for residual disruption during the passage of former Tropical Cyclone Blake. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the weather system has weakened to a tropical low and is forecast to move southwest through inland east Pilbara today. Associated strong winds and heavy rain are expected in eastern Pilbara and far southwestern Kimberley during the weather system’s passage.
Numerous bushfires burning in multiple locations are affecting air quality across the states of the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria. Polluted air can cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and irritation of the eyes or nose. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with underlying heart or lung disease are particularly vulnerable. To lessen the risk of potential health problems, travelers should reduce exposure by decreasing time and physical activity outdoors. All travel to non-urban areas under a Catastrophic Fire Danger Warning or an Extreme Fire Danger Warning should be deferred.
From January 10-12 and 17-19, travelers in Dhaka should expect disruption and heightened security during Bishwa Ijtema, an annual gathering of Muslims. The first part of the event on January 10-12 will be held at Bishwa Ijtema Maidan Masjid on the banks of the Turag River in Tongi. The second phase will take place on January 17-19. More than three million people are expected to attend the event, which is the second-largest congregation of Muslims worldwide. Heightened security measures will be in force, including the deployment of security force personnel and the implementation of road closures and access restrictions.
Travelers in urban centers should continue to avoid demonstrations by various groups over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Left parties have staged a week-long nationwide protest campaign which will end with a general strike today. Tens of thousands of people attended a protest on January 4 in the southern city of Hyderabad. While widespread violence is not expected, there remains a low but persistent threat of unrest.
Today, passengers transiting Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in Delhi should reconfirm flights due to adverse weather conditions in the area.
Passengers transiting Amami Airport (ASJ) should continue to reconfirm the status of flights amid disruption following the temporary closure of a runway. Authorities closed the runway after a commuter passenger aircraft skidded off it at approximately 10:00 AM local time today. No injuries were reported. The incident is being investigated by the country’s Transportation Safety Board. Following the incident, all subsequent flight arrivals and departures have been canceled. It is unclear when the facility’s operations will resume.
Today, travelers in Istanbul should anticipate heightened security and associated disruption during the inauguration of the “TurkStream” natural gas pipeline, which runs between Turkey and Russia. The event, which will be held at the Halic Congress Center, will be attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among other visiting heads of state. Heightened security measures, including road closures and identification checks, are likely around the venue as well as in Beskitas, where Putin is reportedly staying. Travelers should maintain flexible itineraries and reconfirm the status of routes prior to setting out.
Travelers in the UK and European Union (EU) should continue to monitor developments and follow all government guidelines related to the process of the UK leaving the EU, known as “Brexit.” The EU has agreed on a flexible extension date of January 31, 2020. Local gatherings relating to Brexit may take place in the UK, with most such events likely to be focused on Parliament Square in London.
Today, travelers in North Nicosia should anticipate disruption near a demonstration at the Lefkosa Bus Terminal. The event, which will begin at 6:00 PM local time, is being held to denounce the perceived poor quality of roads and recently announced tax increases. While the rally is likely to pass off peacefully, it is expected to be well attended and may cause traffic disruption in the area.
Today through Friday, January 10, passengers transiting French airports should anticipate disruption and reconfirm their flights during a nationwide strike by air traffic controllers. The industrial action will begin at 7:00 PM local time today and conclude at 6:30 AM local time on Friday, January 10. While Air France will maintain its entire flight schedule today, the airline has warned of disruption to its short- and medium-haul services tomorrow. The work stoppage, which has been called by the USAC-CGT union, is linked to ongoing protests against pension reforms. Associated strikes have prompted the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
Tomorrow, travelers in Paris and other urban centers should avoid fresh nationwide protests against controversial pension reforms. In Paris, participants will gather at Place de la Republique at 1:30 PM local time before marching towards Place Saint-Augustin. Several labor unions have organized the demonstrations as part of ongoing industrial action. Well-attended protests over the issue have previously led to looting and scuffles between attendees and police, and any repetition would pose incidental risks to bystanders. Further rallies have been announced for Saturday, January 11, though specific details are not yet available.
Today, travelers should anticipate disruption to air and road travel and maintain flexible itineraries due to ongoing poor weather conditions. Heavy snowfall and stormy weather conditions have resulted in the cancellation of several flights at Reykjavik’s Keflavik International Airport (KEF). Iceland Air has canceled all departures scheduled from the airport before 11:00 AM local time. The severe weather has also made road journeys difficult; delays and cancellations have been reported on cross-country bus routes. The Icelandic Met Office has issued a Yellow Weather Warning (third-highest on a five-tier scale) for the whole country.
Today and tomorrow, travelers in Lombardy should expect disruption to rail services and reconfirm schedules due to a planned union-led strike. Regional, suburban railway, and Trenord long-distance services will be disrupted between 3:00 AM local time today through 2:00 AM local time tomorrow. In Milan, rail services between the city center and Malpensa Airport (MXP) will be affected. Replacement shuttle services will be put in place between the airport and Milan Cadorna Station during the industrial action.
Travelers in Valletta should anticipate local disruption around further anti-government protests by the Repubblika and Occupy Justice civil society groups. Demonstrators are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat over alleged links to the death of an anti-corruption journalist in October 2017. Muscat has said he will step down on Sunday, January 12. While most related demonstrations have passed off peacefully, minor scuffles are possible.
Stavanger Airport (SVG), which has been closed since yesterday afternoon following a fire at one of the facility’s parking garages, will resume operations today. The blaze, which destroyed more than 300 cars, prompted airport authorities to suspend all flights to and from the airport. Hotels in the vicinity were also reportedly evacuated because of heavy smoke in the area. Passengers transiting Stavanger Airport should expect residual disruption and reconfirm status of their flights prior to setting out.