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Singapore reclaims longest flight

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Such a lengthy flight would surely leave your body pleading for mercy if you had to endure it in a cattle-class seat, so the airline has opted to fit the plane with luxurious business seats as well as a number of still-not-that-comfortable-sounding premium economy seats.

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Taking 18 hours and 45 minutes between Singapore’s Changi Airport and Newark Liberty Airport just a short drive from New York City, the service, which starts on October 11, is actually a relaunch after the Asian carrier scrapped the route in 2013 due to running costs.

Having deemed it viable again, the carrier is using Airbus A350-900 ULR (ultra-long range) aircraft with 67 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats for the colossal 10,377-mile (16,700 km) flight. The airline’s other A350-900 aircraft are configured to carry a total 253 passengers instead of the 161 we see here.

In a bid to increase comfort for what sounds like a grueling journey — it does, after all, last just five hours short of an entire day — the aircraft has been designed with special lighting to reduce jet lag (there’s a 12-hour time difference), larger windows, and higher ceilings.

Perhaps wisely, Singapore Airlines also teamed up with health spa resort Canyon Ranch, which has knocked together a wellness plan to ease passengers through a flight that spans half the globe. It includes specially designed menus that focus on hydration, nutrition, and bold flavors; “subtle sleep strategies” to improve rest quality; and guided stretching exercises to ensure that your body doesn’t completely seize up halfway across the Pacific.

For in-flight entertainment, the airline has added 200 hours worth of movies and TV shows to the 1,000 already available as part of its regular services, and for anyone who needs to stay connected even at 38,000 feet, there’s Wi-Fi, though it’s not free.

Seat prices vary according to demand and date, but some passengers have been paying around $4,000 for a premium economy return ticket.

“Singapore Airlines has always taken pride in pushing the boundaries to provide the best possible travel convenience for our customers, and we are pleased to be leading the way with these new non-stop flights using the latest-technology, ultra-long-range [aircraft],” Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said in a release.

Singapore Airlines’ new service takes the place of Qatar Airways Doha-to-Auckland, New Zealand, route as the world’s longest flight. That one launched in February 2017 and takes 17 hours and 30 minutes to reach its destination.

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Import route block throws Ethiopia into fuel scarcity.

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The Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa has been hit by a severe fuel shortage as at Tuesday (January 15), multiple local media outlets have reported.

Unusually long queues have been formed outside fuel stations that have supplies with many motorists waiting for hours to buy fuel. Government has yet to respond to the development.



The shortage is largely blamed on a current blockage on the road that links Ethiopia and Djibouti. Ethiopia, a regional economic giant imports most of its supplies through the Djiboutian ports.

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The blockage is staged by young people in the Afar region who are protesting against violent incidents reportedly perpetrated by an ethnic group of Somali extraction.

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The blockage was specifically in the cities of Semera and Awash with pictures showing people sitting right in the middle of the road with loaded trucks parked on either side.

A local portal said protesters were unhappy about a move that saw the federal government withdraw the region’s special forces from areas where the violence happened.

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South Africa Stands 77th in global economic freedom index.

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South Africa has been ranked 77th out of 100 world countries in economic freedom by the Heritage Foundation.



In terms of economic freedom, the Heritage Foundation indicates that with a world rank of 77/180, South Africa is 4th in the African region. The country’s over-all economic freedom score improved with 0.7 in 2017.

General Manager for Research for Brand South Africa, Dr Petrus de Kock, said the index provides some insight into dimensions of the South African economic environment as the country continues to grapple with historical challenges, and the need to spur on entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Notable improvements for South Africa in 2018 include the improvement in the area of investment freedom, and judicial effectiveness. The latter is significant coming in a year where the administration of President Ramaphosa made investment a key focal area of its work,” said de Kock.

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South Africa’s improvement in the rankings comes as a result of advancements in the areas of property rights which is up from 67.6 in 2017 to 67.7 for 2018; judicial effectiveness increased from 59.7 in 2017 to 65.9; fiscal health sees an improvement of +4.6 from 70.7 in 2017; business freedom advanced by +3.1 points from 62.0 in 2017; labour freedom improved by +1.2 in 2018 from 58.9 in 2017; and investment freedom significantly improved by +10.0 from 40.0 in 2017. Notable is South Africa ranks higher than two European nations, being – Italy (79/180), and Greece (115/180).

On the global front based on the measurements of this index, the Heritage Foundation finds that the global average economic freedom score is 61.1, the highest score since inception of the index 24 years ago.

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At an aggregate level, of the 180 economies measured by the index in 2018 – 102 scored better, while the economic freedom scores of 75 got worse. In the case of South Africa it can be noted that the country is one of the 102 that improved its economic freedom score.

Released on an annual basis by the Heritage Foundation, the Index of Economic Freedom provides insight into the extent to which governments enable an open and unrestricted economic environment for citizens and businesses to operate in.

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