Vietnam Airlines soon to fly to U.S.


Vietnam is all set to receive permission to fly directly to the U.S., and Vietnam Airlines plans to launch four flights a week.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has declared that Vietnam now complies with international safety standards, giving its airlines the opportunity to fly to the U.S. and codeshare with American carriers.

The FAA has awarded the country with the Category 1 (CAT 1) rating, which means air carriers from the country may initiate or continue services to the US and take part in reciprocal codeshare arrangements with US carriers.

Vietnam Airlines CEO Duong Tri Thanh told local news media that the carrier would begin with four flights a week to Los Angeles and later daily flights to the West Coast, which is home to a large Vietnamese community.

There are currently no direct flights between the two countries, in spite of a large market catering to tourism and trading. All passengers must transit in another country or territory such as Qatar, Korea or Japan, with a total travel time of 18 to 21 hours.

Vietnam’s aviation industry has seen increasing demand in recent years. According to the CAAV, Vietnam welcomed more than 100 million passengers passing through airports in the country in 2018.

The number of flights in the country grew by 16 percent on average between 2010 and 2018, according to official data.

But there are also concerns about possible losses. Thanh said it would take at least five years for the direct service to the U.S. to break even, and there could be an annual loss of $30 million in the first few years.

It would take at least five years for the national flag carrier to break even, he added.

Dinh Viet Thang, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), said that local airlines would need to purchase larger airplanes as most of the existing fleet cannot manage such long flights.

Trump to meet Kim Jong-un in Vietnam


U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam, a country chosen as a neutral location for their second nuclear summit meeting, on Feb. 27-28.

“Kim and I will meet again on Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam,” he said, but did not say where in Vietnam.

Trump made the announcement in his annual State of the Union address to Congress, confirming rumors about Vietnam being chosen as the venue for their second meeting, saying it was part of “a bold new diplomacy” that has already yielded potential results.
Mr. Trump expects the meeting to improve a diplomatic effort that has seemingly stalled since their last meeting in Singapore.

“If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea. Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong-un is a good one.”

“I like him. I get along with him great. We have a fantastic chemistry,” Mr. Trump said. “We have had tremendous correspondence that some people have seen and can’t even believe it. They think it’s historic. And we’ll see what happens. Now that doesn’t mean we’re going to make a deal. But certainly I think we have a very good chance of making a deal.”

Vietnam, which has diplomatic ties with both Washington and Pyongyang, offers advantages for both leaders. Vietnam is an easy flight for Kim’s shorter-range aircraft, and for Trump, it offers a symbolic nod to a communist country that has improved relations with the United States since the end of the Vietnam War.

The U.S. President visited Vietnam for the first time in 2017 when he attended Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s annual meeting. I think the location of this upcoming meeting is chosen because of two reasons.

The first is that Vietnam is the setting of the United States’ last major war, a possible reminder of the devastating and long-lasting effects on the country. The second reason is to show how a Communist country can rise up from international isolation and establish a booming economy in a short time.

Air quality in Hanoi turns hazardous


Air pollution in Hanoi has reached an alarming level recently, with heavy transportation, industrialization and energy production to blame, according to the authorities.

The Real-time Air Quality Index on this week ranked pollution in Vietnam’s capital as “very unhealthy”. The index measured near the Vietnam-based U.S. embassy at the city center hit 154, a level that will severely threaten the lives of old people and those with heart or respiratory problems.

On the same day, Hanoi’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment reported that the index recorded at the industrial area to the west of Hanoi reached 202, a dangerous level considered as “hazardous”, which means people should avoid outdoor activities. Not very far from there, on Ba Trieu Street downtown, the index measured reached 201.

A survey conducted by GreenID organization on 1,000 Hanoi citizens showed that they blamed transportation, industrialization and energy production for the air pollution in the city with transportation to be the primary cause.

Hoang Tung, a senior official from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment said that heavy traffic has even worsened in the past few days due to the Lunar New Year.

“High demand for travel by personal vehicles in preparation for Tet, the biggest and most significant holiday in Vietnam, has caused the heavy pollution in the city,” he said. He also added that the cold weather also aggravates the problem.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment has recently published a report stating that traffic activities account for more than 70 percent of air pollution in Hanoi. It was also reported that the city of eight million people currently has more than nearly six million vehicles.