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International Air Transport Association Suspends Kenya’s Fly540

In a letter announcing the suspension, the International Air Transport Association indicated that the airline breached its Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) rules under Resolution 850 and has ordered all travel agents to cease issuing tickets and receiving payments on behalf of Fly540.

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World Airlines trade association, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has suspended Kenya’s low-cost carrier Fly540 from using its automated ticketing system due to undisclosed reasons.

In a letter announcing the suspension, the International Air Transport Association indicated that the airline breached its Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) rules under Resolution 850 and has ordered all travel agents to cease issuing tickets and receiving payments on behalf of Fly540.

Under Resolution 850m of the Issuing and Processing of the Agency Debit Memos (ADM), IATA can order the suspension of an airline’s ticket sales when it owes payments via the Billing and Settlement Plan when it ceases all scheduled passenger operations, or when it enters a bankruptcy process.

The BSP is an electronic system operated by IATA that allows accredited travel agents to book tickets and manage the payments for airlines that have registered with the system, with IATA having over 88 BSPs across the world covering various markets.  

The freeze on ticketing for Fly540 means that passengers will no longer be able to book for flights as usual and that travelers who had already booked flights will have to wait until the travel agents collecting payments on behalf of Fly540 agree with the airline on how refunds can be settled.

BSP Kenya in October 2019 migrated to the NewGen ISS (New Generation IATA Settlement Scheme) to streamline financial settlement service between airlines and travel agents operating in the country.

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“IATA has suspended Fly540 with immediate effect, in accordance with the provisions in Resolution 850 ‘Attachment F.’ BSP travel agents must immediately suspend all ticketing activities on behalf of Fly540, including the use of automated systems for processing of refunds or other transactions on behalf of Fly540. BSP travel agents must immediately stop using Fly540’s name and numeric code as a ticketing airline,” the notice by IATA read.

The suspension comes at a time demand for air travel has remained sluggish due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

IATA’s regulations under ‘Attachment F’ outlines procedures to be followed by IATA when it suspends an airline from a BSP, reinstatement of an airline, and termination from a BSP.

While IATA has given the airline an opportunity to protest the suspension in writing, among the conditions it has set for Fly540 reinstatement to the platform is that the airline will have to show that it has rectified the cause of its suspension.

The airline would also have to settle any debt owed to IATA before it is allowed back to the ticketing and billing system.

Fly540 has a fleet of five airplanes and currently flies to multiple destinations in East Africa including holiday destinations such as Diani and Zanzibar.  

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Rabbis Condemn Tunisia’s President Saied over ‘Thieving Jews’ Comments

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The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) on Wednesday warned that Tunisian Jews may become targets after President Kais Saied blamed them for rising social tensions in the country.

President Saied had in a recent meeting with residents of the low-income Al-Tadamon neighborhood – also known as Ettadhamen-Mnihla – in Greater Tunis blamed Tunisia’s woes on “thieving Jews”.

A recording of the visit to Al-Tadamon, including the president’s comments, were uploaded to his Facebook account on Tuesday.

CER’s Chief Rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt, condemned the president’s verbal attacks on the Jews.

“The Conference of European Rabbis wishes to express its deep concern following the serious and public remarks made by Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed this morning, accusing Jews of being responsible for the instability in the country”

“The CER urges the Tunisian President to withdraw these remarks, which constitute an immediate threat to the physical and moral integrity of Tunisian Jewish citizens.

“We consider that the Tunisian government is the guarantor of the security of Tunisian Jews. Such allegations threaten the integrity of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world,” he said.

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Tropical Storm Eloise: Weather Service Publishes Updates

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Tropical storm Eloise made a landfall on Tuesday across the North-East of Madagascar bringing gusty winds & heavy rain. Eloise has weakened but is forecast to escalate as it exits the west coast and heads into the Mozambique Channel towards Southern Mozambique later this week.

At the moment, Eloise is currently considered as a Moderate Tropical Storm, with a central pressure less than 1000 hPa (hectopascal). It is however set to intensify in the coming days into a cyclone.

In December, Cyclone Chalane hit parts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Weather experts say South Africa may experience heavy rains over the next few days.  The storm is expected to reach the Kingdom of Eswatini this weekend, with strong winds and heavy rainfall making its way from Mozambique.

South African Meteorologist Francois Engelbrecht forecasts severe winds and flooding. 

“Right now, for South Africa, if the storm is going to follow this track into Southern Mozambique and then towards our eastern escarpment in the North East, some parts of our Limpopo province and then southwards along the escarpment in Mpumalanga all the way to Swaziland, these areas [are] getting 100mm of rainfall on Sunday and Monday.”

Engelbrecht said rains of up to 200mm in certain areas indicate a high chance of flooding.

After making a landfall, Eloise is expected to push further south-westwards towards South Africa and Mozambique. Extreme rain is expected over southern Mozambique, eastern Lowveld, escarpment of Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces as well as Northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa up until Monday 25th January.

Against this backdrop, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) warns that possible impacts of these rains may include general flooding, damage to road infrastructure, bridges and possible displacements of affected communities.

SAWS relying on modern satellite remote sensing as well as advanced ensemble numeric modelling techniques will continue to closely monitor and make further timely updates to the public.

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Militant Attacks in Mozambique Continue to Fuel Aid Crisis – UN

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) group, no fewer than 2,500 people have died, over half of them civilians.

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The United Nations on Wednesday, disclosed militant attacks in northern Mozambique have created a “worsening humanitarian crisis,” estimating that over half a million people had now fled their homes.

A shadowy militant group that calls itself Ahlu Sunnah Wal-Jama has terrorized residents in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province since 2017, ransacking villages in a campaign to establish an Islamist caliphate.

The group, after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2019, intensified its attacks, sometimes carrying out executions and beheadings and abducting women and children.

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) group, no fewer than 2,500 people have died, over half of them civilians.

Thousands have had to flee their homes, mainly seeking refuge with friends and relatives in the regional capital Pemba, due to the militant attacks.

“The United Nations is deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian crisis and escalating violence forcing thousands to flee in Cabo Delgado province,” the UN’s southern and eastern Africa directors said in a joint statement.

“According to the government, militant attacks by non-state groups have forced more than 565,000 people to flee … abandoning their crops and livelihoods.”

They added that the upcoming rainy season and the coronavirus pandemic have only aggravated existing issues like the shortage of food, sanitation and schooling among the displaced.

The UN has called for more aid and resources to help uprooted families start from scratch, as they were “completely reliant on humanitarian assistance”.

“We reckon that 1.6 million people are in need of help,” UN resident Mozambique coordinator Mytra Kaulard said in an online press briefing.

“There is a cholera epidemic in Cabo Delgado that we are struggling to contain,” she added.

The UN’s statement coincided with a three-day visit by Portugal’s foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, on behalf of the European Union, to discuss security situation in its former colony, which is constantly getting worse.

Mozambican forces have struggled to regain control of Cabo Delgado, which also houses Africa’s three largest liquid natural gas (LNG) projects.

Militants have so far seized large swathes of territory, including the key port town of Mocimboa da Praia — about 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of a $20 billion gas exploration project led by Total, the French energy giant.

In late December, insurgency forced the company to suspend construction on its LNG site.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne had a meeting this week and the president vowed to “establish a security plan” to safeguard the project.

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