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Airline CEOs Outraged; Negotiations Closer to Ceasefire; Fertility Rates Continue to Plummet; Dodgers fire Interpreter over Theft Accusations. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 21, 2024 - 09:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, CEOs from some of the world's biggest airlines are gathering in Brussels today. And Boeing is top of mind after that string of terrifying midair incidents that have rocked the company.

And on that, Boeing admitted just yesterday that it is expecting a massive financial loss in the first quarter.

CNN's Richard Quest is in Brussels with much more on this.

And, Richard, it does seem that these airline CEOs and airlines broadly are in a tough spot. They can't be happy with Boeing, but they also need Boeing, right?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes. Absolutely in one. Not only do they need Boeing because they've got Boeing aircraft in their fleet. Many of them have got hundreds of Boeing planes on order. And you can't just suddenly turn around to Airbus and say, oh, can we order 200 of your planes, please, because the Airbus order book is full.

And, anyway, as the airline's CEOs told me yesterday, Boeing makes very good planes when it makes them properly.

This is Michael O'Leary. He's the CEO of Ryanair, which actually is Europe's largest airline by passenger numbers, 200 million expected this year. And he has more than 400 - 400 Boeing 737 Max planes on order. He told me about the production problems.


MICHAEL O'LEARY, CEO, RYANAIR: In 2022 and 2023 we were finding little things, like spanners (ph) under floorboards that - in some cases seat handles missing, things like that. That shows, I think, a lack of attention to detail, quality issues at Boeing.

We're in daily dialogue with Dave Calhoun, Brian West, the CFO. I have confidence in those guys. I think they're getting their arms around it. I think the situation at Boeing is improving. But there is no doubt this summer we're facing delivery delays.


QUEST: And that's exactly what you hear from all the CEOs. We don't like it, we're pretty pissed off about it, but we know that Boeing are slowly but surely getting things right.

BOLDUAN: I mean it's very interesting that we're now hearing this from the CEOs themselves. I mean what the Ryanair CEO was just telling you there.

What is Boeings saying now?

QUEST: Yes. Boeing again in a difficult spot because these are the customers that they - that they want to keep sweet and keen (ph). Boeing says - this is the statement they said, "we are squarely focused on implemented changes to strengthen quality across our production systems and taking the necessary time to deliver high quality airplanes that meet all regulatory requirements. We continue to stay in close contact with our customers about these issues and our actions to address them."

Now, you see Boeing knows jolly well that in only really has to keep that line of communication with the airlines.


And the airlines have got representatives at Wichita and in Seattle. And so the airlines know what's actually happening now with Boeing. And provided you keep the airlines happy, then the airlines keep their customers happy. And that's the way the whole thing works. But you can't just go and buy 200 A320s tomorrow. They're simply not available.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And it - and then at the - it sounds like kind of like the bottom end of the customers right now that need to be focused on. Then we've got to talk about airline passengers and what this means for all of us.


BOLDUAN: It's great to see your, Richard. Glad you're in Brussels. Thanks for coming in.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the U.S. secretary of state says negotiations are getting closer to a possible hostage deal in Gaza.

And a new study suggests fertility rates could plummet.



BERMAN: This morning, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the effort to secure an immediate ceasefire in Gaza is, quote, "getting closer." The secretary is an Egypt today working to lock down an agreement tied to the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

CNN's Kylie Atwood is with us now.

Kylie, what are you hearing?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, just as you said, John, we heard from the secretary is state yesterday saying that these efforts are getting closer. Those efforts to secure both an immediate ceasefire and, of course, to secure the release of those hostages held by Hamas. That's what the secretary said when he was in Saudi Arabia. And one of the things he also said is that the gaps are narrowing.

But we should take this all with a grain of salt. We have heard positive language about where this is all heading before, and it hasn't always resulted in breakthroughs. He also wasn't specific in terms of how the gaps are actually narrowing.

So, we'll try and talk to sources to figure where this is all headed over the course of the next few days. But as you said, the secretary is in Egypt today. He's going to be meeting with a number of Arab leaders to talk about what it looks like for Gaza the day after there is some sort of ceasefire here, how they can govern Gaza, how they can secure Gaza.

And then tomorrow he's heading to Israel. Of course, he has been Israel so many times throughout this conflict. And one of the things that we will be watching for him to discuss with his Israeli counterpart is the Israelis desire to go ahead with the ground operation in Gaza, in Rafah specifically. That southern portion of Gaza U.S. officials have been very clear in saying that they do not think a ground operation would be productive here. They are very concerned about how that could be pulled off given that there are 1.5 million civilians there. They just think that it would be too harmful for those civilians. So, that will be discussed by the secretary of state on Friday.

But then we also have an Israeli delegation coming here to Washington next week to discuss the matter while Israel and the U.S. are just on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of how a Rafah operation could be accomplished.

BERMAN: All right, Kylie Atwood, thank you very much for that reporting. Keep us posted.


BOLDUAN: Also new this morning, life expectancy in the United States is beginning to rebound. It's on the rise. New data from the CDC shows life expectancy rose about a year to 77.5 years old in 2022. But there's a bit of a catch. That is still lower than it's been in about 20 years. The Covid pandemic, a major contributing factor to the decline. And arguably most alarming the CDC has found that child deaths increased last year, as did deadly drug overdoses. We also have this. A new study projects that fertility rates around the world will continue to plummet. This as experts say more and more people are kind of shifting their focus, shifting towards having smaller families.

CNN's Meg Tirrell has much more on this.

Talk about this study. What do these projections show?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a really interesting study. It goes out essentially until 2100.

BOLDUAN: Oh, wow

TIRRELL: And it says we're facing what they call a low fertility future. This is from a modeling group called IHME at the University of Washington. It was published in "The Lancet" last night. They talk about a replacement level of essentially two children per person who's having the babies. So, you need to have that many in order to have your population be sustained, or slightly more than two.

You can see what the global fertility rate has been going back to 1950. It was more than four globally children per mother.


TIRRELL: And 3.6 in 1980, down to just above 2.2 in 2021. Now, that's projected to go underneath that sort of replacement rate by 2050. And then out to 2100. By that point, 97 percent of countries and territories across the world are projected to have under a two replacement rate, essentially.

BOLDUAN: So, if you want the replacement rate, right, if that's - if that's the goal, what do governments and societies do about it?

TIRRELL: So, what we're seeing in these numbers is an imbalance in where the fertility rate is high and where it's low.


TIRRELL: So the proportion -- the expectation is that lower income countries are going to account for a higher proportion of births out toward 2100. So, they estimate that one in two children born in 2100 is going to be in Sub Saharan Africa. And so what they say is that there's areas of the world that are going to be seeing a baby boom and areas seeing a baby bust. And in the baby boom areas you need to increase access to contraception and education for women. In the baby bust areas policies supporting parents are very important to be able to support having families and also open immigration to talk about sort of replacing the folks that you're not, you know, having born there in the region.


BOLDUAN: Yes. And just seeing like the shifts in population. Yes, we're talking out to 2100, but still this is a fascinating modeling exercise to look at.

TIRRELL: It really is.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Meg.

TIRRELL: Thanks.


BERMAN: All right, a bombshell in baseball. Accusations of gambling and theft against a man super close to the biggest star in the game.

And last second, inside tips for how to fill out your March Madness brackets.



BERMAN: All right, brand new this morning, the highest paid athlete in North American sports history now adjacent to a scandal with accusations of theft and gambling. Shohei Ohtani's longtime interpreter was fired. And according to reports, he is accused of stealing millions of dollars from Ohtani, allegedly using Ohtani's bank account to place bets with a bookie under federal investigation.

With us now, "USA Today" sports columnist Christine Brennan.

And, Christine, I wanted to stipulate here, these are reports that as of now Ohtani's not accused or implicated in anything directly, but you've got literally the biggest star in baseball, one of the biggest athletes we've seen in maybe generations, really close to an area which is just completely off limits in baseball, which is gambling. What do you see here?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Yes, John, way to close. The last thing Major League Baseball wants is a scandal involving, as you said, of course, the biggest name in the sport, and one of the biggest athletes and biggest names throughout sport in the world.

The idea that this story has broken at this moment is baseball's worst nightmare. As they're celebrating the games in South Korea, as they're celebrating the Dodgers super team, Ohtani with, of course, the Dodgers now, the entire season yet to come, and what are we talking about? We're talking about scandal. We're talking about this incredibly close connection.

And that is the key here, as you said, the incredibly close connection between the biggest star in the game and the word gambling and betting. That doesn't mean he's involved. But when you're talking millions of dollars and its interpreter, which, of course, the interpreters is so close, so close to an athlete like Ohtani, he is - he is his voice. He is the translator. He is the one who's with him all the time, right by his side. To think that this is going on. And, of course, the key question that any journalists would ask, and we have to ask, is, what did Ohtani know and when did he know it? Did he have any inkling that this money, which is being stolen according to the reports, and these are excellent reporters on these stories, is there any - any hint that Ohtani might have known? Right now we're hearing no. But how did he not know and then we'll give him every opportunity to answer those questions eventually. It's a very, very big deal.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean it's - it's a - it's a really kind of remarkable thing. I mean -

BERMAN: I was shocked. I woke up this morning and these - you know, and, again, I was reading all the news across a broad spectrum, but every once in a while I read the sports stories first.

BOLDUAN: Every morning.

BERMAN: This one transcendent because you're dealing with the guy who baseball wants to be so front and center. And this just - right now the details are just so confusing. Obviously, Christine, we need to find out much more information. As you said, great journals will be asking those questions.

BOLDUAN: I want to - can I also just shift because today is one of our favorite days of the year. It's the beginning of March Madness. And what kind of you're watching for. I mean, I just love to watch all of it. But you've also - you've already said that history's already been made before anyone's even really playing. Why?

BRENNAN: That's right. That's right, Kate, because for the first time ever, I believe, and I think many people believe, that the women's brackets, a women's game and the tournament of March Madness for the women is a bigger deal than the men. And I cannot even believe I just said that sentence.

Obviously, it's all because of one person, you know who, Caitlin Clark and the incredible interest, the eyeballs on her, the TV ratings, these sellouts. I was at one in Maryland with my family and month or two ago. To watch the way the nation has fallen in love with this player. She'll be starting on Saturday. Iowa will be playing their number one seed. South Carolina is the favorite. And we're talking women's basketball in a way that I, as I said, I would have never thought it was possible.

And oh, by the way, the men are playing. And I think UConn has a pretty good shot to win on that side. But watch Purdue there too.

But Iowa, South Carolina, LSU, a possible Iowa/LSU match in the Elite Eight over Easter Sunday weekend. All of that is yet to come. And the women's game truly is in a remarkable place. It's wonderful to see for our daughters, our nieces, and the girl next door.

BERMAN: Yes, I can't think of a time though when there's been so much pressure on one athlete like this in a team sport. And it's not just that people are watching this, you know, just for a team. I mean, in a way, she's the representative of this entire tournament. That's got to be a lot of pressure. BRENNAN: Yes, but she likes it, John. I mean, you know, Caitlin Clark is a remarkable athlete and she - she brings it on. We know about the mannerisms. We know about the confidence, right?

And, you know, this is what Title Nine has given us, 52 years into the law that opened the floodgates for girls and women to play sports. As you know, we've talked a lot about it.

Well, here's a - here's your gift, American, Caitlin Clark. So confident. So comfortable. Bring it on. And she wants the attention.


She wants to be shooting those threes. Such a visible presence from the moment she brings the ball down the court, to the moment she's launched those logo (ph) 3s. Obviously, she has teammates. Obviously, there are other great players out there. Angel Reese, of course, South Carolina, Dawn Staley, the great coach. The favorite to win at all.

But, yes, you're right. And I think if Caitlin Clark were here with us, which would be cool if she were, she would say, yes, I want to be a part of this. I love this. I love this more than anything. And bring it on. And I think that's what we're going to see in the next couple of weeks.

BERMAN: So, very quickly, on the men's side you have UConn, maybe Purdue?

BRENNAN: Yes. I think UConn. You know, they're - they're going to go for their sixth title on the men's side. Of course, UConn women have 11. So, they're the defending champs. And I think this year they might be able to pull it off.

But Purdue always, the last two of the three years, has lost in the first round. Underperformed. Can Purdue do what they're supposed to do? Seven-four Zach Edey. Can he finally get the team, you know, get them going to where they should be, which is the Final Four. If Purdue can do that, then there's certainly that possibility.

BERMAN: Purdue loves you reminding them of the fact that they've choked so many times.

BOLDUAN: There's no one I love celebrating March Madness with more than Christine Brennan. It's good to see you.

BRENNAN: Thanks all.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Christine.

And thank you all so much for joining us. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Jim Acosta up next.