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First regular international flight to resume on January 5 to Japan



Plans are in place to resume some regular international flight routes to Vietnam, almost two years after they were halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

First regular international flight to resume on January 5 to Japan
The first flight to Japan is scheduled to be operated by the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines on January 5, and by Vietjet Air and All Nippon Airways on January 6. —VNA/VNS Photo

The first regular international route to resume will be the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines flying to Japan on January 5, 2022. Vietjet Air and All Nippon Airways will resume flights on January 6, 2022.

Deputy Minister of Transport Le Anh Tuan said that it was impossible for this route to resume sooner, due to the Japanese New Year holiday which means that testing facilities are not operating.

However, only those eligible for entry to Japan will be able to fly. A ten-day quarantine on the Japanese side is still required. 

Taiwan (China) also agreed to restart flights, according to a letter sent on December 24 to the Vietnamese authority. Taiwan authorities have suggested at least five flights a week.

On December 27, the aviation authorities of Singapore issued a written agreement that Vietnam Airlines can operate two flights per week. As well as this, Vietjet Air will operate one flight per week and Pacific Airlines will operate one flight per week to the city state.

On December 28, the Cambodian side agreed in writing, after requesting more information from Vietnam about the proposal. Vietnam Airlines will operate four flights per week.

Vietnam Airlines has already been licensed by the aviation authorities of both Vietnam and the United States to operate regular flights between the two countries. The airline has been cleared to immediately begin flights as planned and does not need any further approval.

Negotiations on restarting flights to other countries are still ongoing. The Thai aviation authorities received a request on December 27 regarding the resumption of flights to Vietnam, but an official response has not yet been received. 

The ministry is also working with representatives of the South Korean embassy and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Vietnam to push for an early reply on the plan to resume flights to Vietnam. South Korea is currently applying a 10-day quarantine for foreigners entering the country, while Taiwan (China) also has COVID-dependant entry requirements. 

Mainland China and Laos have not yet responded to Vietnam’s request to a letter sent from the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam on December 23.  

More to come

On December 27, the Ministry of Transport chaired a meeting between the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Transport, Public Security, and National Defence and airlines to discuss and agree on the resumption of regular international commercial flights.

The Government has agreed to reopen regular international passenger flights to nine countries and territories; Beijing/Guangzhou (China), Tokyo (Japan), Seoul (South Korea), Taipei (Taiwan – China), Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore, Vientiane (Laos), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), and San Francisco/Los Angeles (the US). 

The first scheduled international commercial flight to Japan is on January 5, 2022.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the demand for returning the country by Vietnamese citizens in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan (China) will be huge, especially during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays.

“In order to better meet the demand of overseas Vietnamese trying to return, representatives of the ministries agreed to increase the frequency of flights to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan (China) to seven flights per week to help passengers have more options at a more reasonable price,” Tuan said.

Regarding the proposal of airlines to open regular flights to Europe and Australia, the ministries said that Vietnamese citizens in European countries and Australia hope to have direct flights to Vietnam for the Tet holidays.

The transport ministry had previously proposed to the Prime Minister resuming flights to France, Germany, Russia and Australia from January 1, 2022. At the meeting, the ministries agreed to apply regular international commercial flights to the European and Australian markets.

The Prime Minister has been asked to consider increasing the frequency of regular international commercial flights carrying passengers between Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan (China). 

It has also been proposed that the pilot plan be extended to Europe and Australia to satisfy the demand created by Vietnamese citizens abroad trying to return for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Under the ministry’s plan, regular international passenger flights will resume to Beijing/Guangzhou (China), Tokyo (Japan), Seoul (the Republic of Korea), Taipei (Taiwan – China), Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore, Vientiane (Laos), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), and San Francisco/Los Angeles (the US).

Source: Vietnam News



Plastic packaging a cause for concern in online shopping era in Vietnam



The trend of online food purchasing, which has prevailed since the COVID-19 outbreak, and the prevalent use of plastic packaging in retail are increasing plastic waste volume, potentially causing long-term health risks.

During the strict COVID-19 restrictions last year, 75 percent of people living in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City used online food delivery services, according to a survey of Q&Me, a market research firm.

Such food is usually packed in boxes made of plastic that accounted for 64 percent of the total volume of materials used for the food packaging industry.

Many vendors prefer using plastic bags to contain various items sold online and at bricks-and-mortar shops.

ProCi Food, a Ho Chi Minh City-based non-profit social project, and some other eco-friendly businesses, like Phu Yen Province-based Tuy An Farm, have called on their customers to send back packaging to them so that they can return it to manufacturers for processing and reuse.

Some online grocery stores, such as ‘Sap Chang Sen’ in Hanoi, have also applied the same practice to minimize plastic waste. 

Kafka Bookstores in Ho Chi Minh City and Stars Bookstore Company Limited in the capital have shared with their customers solutions for reducing waste from packaging and softening environmental impacts from their business operations.

Consumers can make online shopping ‘greener’ by including multiple items in one purchase order and by requesting sellers to use packing methods that help cut down on plastic packaging waste.

In developed countries, major e-commercial sites have made changes to packages to both facilitate buyers and lessen damage to the environment.

Amazon, for example, has turned to packets made from recyclable materials.

Manufacturers should work with retailers to have their goods shipped to online buyers in the original packaging, instead of using any additional one.

Suppliers and transporters should use linings made from eco-friendly materials instead of shock-absorbing films made of plastic.

Very little of the plastic people discard every day is recycled or incinerated in waste-to-energy facilities, but much of it ends up in landfills where it may take up to 1,000 years to decompose, leaking potentially toxic substances to soil and water, according to the United Nations Environment Program.

People eat, drink, and breathe micro-plastics every day, and these small plastic particles may be detrimental to human health once they have entered the body, according the Plastic Health Coalition (PHC), under the Netherlands-based Plastic Soup Foundation, a non-profit organization aiming to educate the public about plastic waste harm.

Plastic products contain chemical additives, some of which are associated with serious health problems such as hormone-related cancers, infertility, and neurodevelopment disorders like ADHD and autism, PHC said.

When plastics and micro-plastics end up in the environment, they attract micro-organisms, such as harmful bacteria, and if micro-plastics containing these pathogens penetrate the body, they may increase the risk of infection, the coalition warned.

Health experts emphasized that long-term usage and exposure of plastics and plastic products to high temperature can lead to leaking of toxic chemical constituents into food, drinks, and water.

Indiscriminate disposal of plastics on land and open-air burning can result in the release of harmful chemicals into the air, causing public health hazards, experts said.

Supermarkets and trade centers in Vietnam will be fined for distributing disposable plastic bags to customers from 2026, the Vietnam News Agency quoted an environment official as saying at a seminar held last month on reduction in the consumption of single-use plastic bags in Vietnam.

The official, Nguyen Trung Thang, deputy director of the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment, under the Department of Industry and Trade of Hanoi, said that Vietnam had issued various legal documents to control serious risks of plastic waste to the environment.

The country also strives to use 100 percent of environmentally-friendly bags at shopping centers and supermarkets by 2025.

“From 2026, supermarkets and trade centers will be fined for providing disposable plastic bags for customers,” Thang said.

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Vietnamese ministries seek feedback on project linking Con Dao with national grid through submarine cables



Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and Ministry of Planning and Investment are asking relevant agencies if they have any feedback on the Vietnam Electricity Corporation (EVN)’s plan to expand the national grid from the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang to southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province’s Con Dao Island via submarine cables.

Electricity demand on Con Dao, which is an increasingly popular tourist destination around 180 kilometers off Ba Ria-Vung Tau, has been on the rise.

The load forecast for the southern island in 2025 is 28.7 MW, 87.6 MW in 2030, and 94 MW in 2035, according to EVN.

Meanwhile, the two diesel-fired power plants on the island have a combined capacity of just 12 MW, which is seven MW lower than existing demand. 

Therefore, EVN proposed a project bringing electricity from the national grid in Soc Trang to Con Dao through submarine cables, which the power corporation believes to be much more stable than other forms of power supply and also minimize the impact on the island’s environment and ecology.

The project is set to start at Soc Trang Province, with the construction of 102.5 kilometers of submarine 110kV lines, featuring 6.1 kilometers of underground 110kV cables. 

It is expected to cost VND4.9 trillion (US$211.2 million), including VND2.5 trillion ($107.7 million) from the state budget.

The electricity retail price on Con Dao upon the completion of the project is estimated at VND2,429.6 ($0.1) per kWh. 

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Vietnam’s child labor rate lower than Asia-Pacific average: official



Vietnam’s rate of child labor is 9.1 percent, around two percentage points lower than the average in the Asia-Pacific region, an official told a workshop held in observance of World Day Against Child Labor 2022 (June 12) on Friday.

The 9.1 percent equates to more than one million children in the 5-17 age group engaging in labor, Deputy Minister of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Ha cited results of a survey done in 2018 by her ministry, the General Statistics Office, and the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The country’s child labor rate has been on the decline since 2012, when it was 15.5 percent, according to Ha.

However, the issue has lingered and tends to take place in informal fields, such as household enterprises and manufacturing and production supply chains, which makes it difficult to detect.

Therefore, the Vietnamese government has sped up multiple efforts to end child labor in all its forms, Ha emphasized.

In contrast with the Vietnamese trend, the global child labor rate has been on the rise due to the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Ingrid Christensen, director of ILO Vietnam.

About 160 million children, nearly ten percent of the earth’s total number of kids, are currently victims of child labor, Christensen said.

The director advised that Vietnam should step up poverty reduction programs and policies, increase vocational training opportunities for children, especially in rural areas, invest in a child protection system, and improve household livelihoods as a way to prevent child labor, contributing to lowering the global child labor rate.

Meanwhile, many enterprise representatives, who attended Friday’s workshop, suggested imposing heavy sanctions and even criminal punishments on child labor violators.

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