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IMPORTANT NOTICE:- CHANGES TO THE ESTA APPLICATION PROCESSING TIME

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have advised that changes in ESTA application processing mean real-time approvals will no longer be available and arriving at the airport without a previously approved ESTA will likely result in being denied boarding.


International travellers using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for travel to the United States should apply as soon as possible but not less than 72 hours before their international flight is scheduled to depart.


It is the passenger's responsibility to make their application and ensure they have a valid travel authority before they travel.

This will make the check-in process much easier for them. Those nationalities not eligible to use the Visa Waiver Program will need to process a visa before travel.


For more information please visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

EBOLA OUTBREAK IN EASTERN DEM REP OF CONGO CONTINUES TO SPREAD

As of 18 December 2018 the number of Ebola cases in the eastern North Kivu and Ituri provinces continues to increase; since July 2018, there have been at least 542 confirmed and suspected cases, with 319 associated fatalities.

In recent weeks the outbreak has spread to the city of Butembo and the town of Katwa; officials have expressed concern that this spread could continue, including south to urban areas such as Goma, or east into Uganda.

The spread of the disease could accelerate in the near term due to gatherings associated with the country's upcoming 23 December elections as well as the Christmas holidays.

Insecurity stemming from militant attacks and community resistance to prevention and containment measures also continues to hinder local and international efforts to respond to the outbreak. Individuals are advised to monitor the situation and to heed the instructions of local security and health officials.

LIBYA (COUNTRY RISK RATING: EXTREME) EASTERN GOVERNMENT CAPTURES COUNTRY'S LARGEST OIL FIELD

General Khalifa Haftar of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) announced on 7 February 2019 that his forces have taken control of Sharara, the country's largest oil field. The field has been closed since December 2018 when armed locals took control to demand increased pay and investment in the remote southwestern region where the field is located.

The general claimed the field was captured without fight after reaching an agreement with local tribal leaders. Haftar is loyal to the Tobruk-based government in eastern Libya and presents the main armed opposition to the U.N.-backed government in the capital. The LNA already controls the area known as the oil crescent, where the majority of the country's oil and gas production takes place; control of Sharara further consolidates the LNA's hold on the country's oil industry, its main source of revenue.


Source: AIG Global Watch News

UK REGIONAL AIRLINE FLYBMI CEASES OPERATION

British regional airline Flybmi has cancelled all its flights and filed for administration, the airline has announced.

The company said it had been badly affected by rises in fuel and carbon costs and uncertainty over Brexit.

The East Midlands-based airline, which has 376 staff, operates 17 planes flying to 25 European cities.

A Flybmi spokesman said: "It is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement.

"The airline has faced several difficulties, including recent spikes in fuel and carbon costs, the latter arising from the EU's recent decision to exclude UK airlines from full participation in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

"Current trading and future prospects have also been seriously affected by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process, which has led to our inability to secure valuable flying contracts in Europe."

All clients of QA Travel affected by this announcement will be contacted to discuss alternative arrangements.

Source: BBC / QA Travel