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Quest Means Business

U.S. Cruise Industry Outraged as C.D.C. Sets No Timeline to Sail; Greece to End Quarantine Rules for Vaccinated and Tested Tourists; Dogecoin Price Soars after Elon Musk Tweets Support; Brazil's Sao Paulo State To Ease Some Restrictions; China's Economy Posts Record 18.3 Percent Growth In Q1; Britain Prepares For Funeral Of Prince Philip. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired April 16, 2021 - 15:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS HOST: The Dow and the S&P 500 are both heading for fresh all-time highs as the market is on a bit of a tear. You can see

the numbers. A bit of a deep at lunchtime but now back up again. Over the last few days, it has been a constant trend, higher markets leading to


Those are the markets. It's good to be back with you on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, and this is the day so far.

The CEOs versus the C.D.C. The head of Norwegian Cruises tells me he is outraged that health officials won't let him sail.

Brazil's financial capital is relaxing restrictions despite soaring COVID numbers.

And crypto investors are doing the upward dog. Dogecoin is the new darling for retail traders.

We are live in New York tonight, on Friday, it is the 16th of April, I'm Richard Quest, and I mean business.

Good evening. Tonight, parts of Europe are getting ready to reopen to tourists. Whilst in the United States, industry leaders of the cruise lines

are urging the Biden administration to get on board with their plans to relaunch their cruise ships from U.S. markets.

In Europe, from Monday, Greece will no longer require vaccinated travelers from certain countries to self-isolate on arrival. A milestone for a

country that counts tourism as one of the industries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and one of its most important industries.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is being much more cautious. Cruise executives are furious that no timeline has been set when

they can set sail with vaccinated passengers.

The Norwegian Cruise line's chief executive says the C.D.C. is showing no sense of urgency. All this on the same time where Norwegian has put forward

a plan to the C.D.C. offering all vaccinated passengers on board and a whole host of other reforms and measures.

The cruise line says they haven't even received a reply. I spoke to Frank Del Rio this week. He told me, if the situation continues, it is very

simple, he'll move his ships.


FRANK DEL RIO, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE HOLDINGS: I think it's outrageous that we have been in this situation for 13 months, and

there doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency. Yet, half a million people around the world depend on the cruise industry for their employment. We

generate over $55 billion of economic activity, most of it here in the United States. Roughly half of all cruisers are Americans.

Yet, the C.D.C. doesn't seem to have any sense of urgency to get the cruise industry going, and it's a scandal, quite frankly. I can't understand it.

Imagine if any other industry in America were to be shut down for this period of time, it would be a national outcry, and that's what we're trying

to do now. We're trying to get people to understand, our legislators, the administration, the legislative arm of government to understand what has

been going on.

Quite frankly, our industry has been too quiet, too polite. We've defended the C.D.C. for their lack of actions, and the time has come where we can no

longer just stand by and hope for the best. Hope is not a strategy, as you know.

Over the last 12 months, our industry has had to raise tens of billions of dollars to be able to stay in business. We alone have had to raise over 7.5

billion. That's a lot of money. We've diluted our shareholders. We've added quite a bit of debt to our balance sheets, and we have had to lay off and

furlough, you know, hundreds if not thousands of employees across the world. It's simply not fair, not when hotels and resorts and casinos and

theme parks and now ballparks, airlines can operate freely. Why not the cruise industry?

QUEST: This is a very different Frank Del Rio that I'm speaking to compared to earlier in the pandemic. It sounds like -- I mean, you're clearly on the

attack in the sense of you're angry and frustrated. But the C.D.C. will turn around and say all in good times, Mr. Del Rio, all in good time. We're

evaluating this, just bearing in mind how bad the situation was with the cruise industry.


DEL RIO: Well, I think 13 months is plenty of good time. In that period of time, we've seen the advent of vaccines, which is a game changer. Using the

C.D.C.'s own words, it's a game changer. Yet, the protocols and the technical guidelines, as they are referred to, then, that have been written

and issued to date by their own admission were developed before there was a vaccine.

So already, we're months and months and months behind. We need to get work going. Our industry is ready to go. My company is ready to go.

And, again, we've put forth a proposal that is second to none. I don't know of any other venue, any other business, any other industry, any other

country that has put forth such a comprehensive bulletproof proposal that the C.D.C. simply has ignored for 10 days.

QUEST: What will you do if you can't get -- if you get no satisfaction from the C.D.C., what will you do?

DEL RIO: Well, Richard, one of the wonderful things about cruise ships or ships in general is we have three things that buildings don't have. We have

motors, we have propellers and we have rudders. So we can move our assets anywhere we need to.

Now, look, we'd prefer to operate in and out of the United States, and it is the world's largest market, the most lucrative market, but it is not the

only market. More than half of all cruisers are non-Americans. And so, if we cannot operate in the United States under reasonable conditions, we'll

simply move our vessels offshore and operate there.

QUEST: You're saying that you'll move the ships? Is that a threat or a promise?

DEL RIO: Oh, it's a promise. It is a promise to my shareholders. We can't sit idly by and let our assets deteriorate, our P&L go to zero. Last year,

our company lost $4 billion because of the pandemic in 2020. In 2019, our EBITDA was over $2 billion. It is survival. It is survival.

And when you're pushed to a corner with obviously no recourse because the C.D.C. has absolutely -- or at least, of the late, they do, at least until

now, we have to seek alternatives.

Look, we operate outside the U.S. routinely.

QUEST: You want to start sailing again in and around, and out of the United States and you've put forward a proposal. What's the core of the proposal?

DEL RIO: The core of the proposal is everyone on board is vaccinated, crew and guests. And then it's combined with the 74 protocols that were

developed by the healthy safety panel, which, as you know, was co-hosted by former F.D.A. Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb and former Secretary of Health

and Human Services, Mike Leavitt.

So this is a powerhouse group that came together over a six-month period to put together a very robust comprehensive list, multilayered, includes

universal testing, mask wearing, social distancing, improved ventilation systems throughout the vessels.

But when combined with everyone being vaccinated, which is where society is marching towards, I believe it is ironclad. There is no place on Earth,

Richard, that you can point to, where you can be as safe as you will be on a Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings cruise ship, because everyone inside that

vessel or that building, whether it's an apartment building, a grocery store, your own home, everyone is vaccinated. What could be better than


QUEST: What happens for those, for example, where you are in port and others come onto the ship? I mean, I agree, if everybody is vaccinated --

DEL RIO: Those will not come onboard this ship, typically when a vessel makes a port of call, our guests get off the ship and visit the surrounding

areas. But people don't come -- locals don't come on board, and if whatever reason they have to, no one will come on board if they're not vaccinated,

period, end of story.

QUEST: Cruising was growing phenomenally. You and I have talked many times about the growth in the number of ships, in the number of births, and there

simply -- I tis nowhere near as many worldwide as everybody thinks. What will it take, do you think, if anything, to get people to like and want to

cruise again? Or do you feel there's a pent-up demand waiting to be satisfied?

DEL RIO: Richard, I'm glad you asked that question because the cruise industry or the demand for cruising has never been stronger. On our last

earnings call about six weeks ago, I was asked a similar question, and I said, look, given where we are in the booking cycle, all three of our

brands are significantly better booked for 2022 departures and 2023 departures, and at higher prices than we've ever been in our history,

including the record year of 2019.


DEL RIO: We have a very, very loyal guest list, not just our company, our industry. It's resilient.

When we talk about the resiliency of the cruise industry, we are really talking about the loyalty of the cruise guests. They love to cruise, it's a

great value. They've now gone over a year without cruising. And so, yes, there is huge pent-up demand.


QUEST: The Chief Executive of Norwegian on the dispute it is having with the C.D.C.

In Europe, despite the vaccine's dismal rollout and worrying infection rates, many countries there are easing travel restrictions. Portugal has

lifted its near total ban on flights to and from the U.K. and Brazil and the country will welcome back people -- Portugal -- are welcoming back

people traveling for work, school, and family visits.

Tourism is not yet a legitimate reason to visit Portugal.

Germany has removed the U.K. from its COVID list. Passengers from Britain will no longer need to quarantine upon arrival, and crucially, Greece will

no longer require certain tourists to self-isolate, so long as they've been vaccinate or they have a negative test for COVID.

It applies from Monday to people from the E.U. and five other countries.

Melissa Bell is following it all from Paris. Now, this is very interesting, Melissa, because what's clearly happening is in the -- certainly, in the

case of Portugal and Greece, they are laying the groundwork for reopening the tourism industry as the summer gets ever closer.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Because, Richard, it's been at such a standstill for such a long time. Apart from a small reprieve last summer,

this is an industry that's worth hundreds of billions of euros, and of course, you have the added problem that in a continent -- on a continent

where we've lost the habit of having borders, so many different restrictions have been applied, new borders have popped up where we didn't


So the priority for so many of these countries and specifically Greece, Portugal, Austria, those countries so heavily dependent on tourism has been

really to find a way to get people to come back. Hence, the pressure on the European Union to try and move ahead with these vaccine passports.

The other thing is that of course, the vaccination campaigns are picking up pace. It is improving slightly. Here in France, for instance, 12 million

people, Richard, have now been at least partially vaccinated with the government now looking to mid-May possibly to look at opening things like

terraces and museums. They've been closed since October and really left Paris feeling not very much like Paris at all.

QUEST: Okay. But the gap between where they want to be and where they are now and bearing in mind, you know, AstraZeneca, well, I've lost track with

who, what, where, and who is actually giving it, if anybody is giving it at the moment; and Johnson & Johnson has a problem.

So what are they doing with that?

BELL: Well, the European Commission and the man in charge of its vaccine task force says that Europe is now the biggest producer of vaccines in the

world. What they've done is ramped up their production. He says he believes that the Commission can live up to its promise of getting two doses per

person for 70 percent of the population to be vaccinated by the summer. The rest, he says, is down to member states in order to try and get that

rollout up and going.

But he says that this is possible. He says it will be done, and there has been, Richard, some progress these last few days in countries like Germany,

France, in getting more people vaccinated, 50 million extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine says Thierry Breton, the man in charge, will help achieve

that goal.

QUEST: Thank you, Melissa Bell. Much appreciated.

Still to come, some investors think it's the underdog of the crypto currencies. Others say, it is all bark and no bite. We will explore the

remarkable rise of Dogecoin.



QUEST: While other figures in the internet are choked, now some Dogecoin investors are laughing all the way to the bank after a stunning week for

the cryptocurrency that is symbolized of course by a dog. Some credit Elon Musk for this latest spike on Thursday.

He retitled his "Doge Barking at the Moon" in a tweet, afterwards, it valued more than doubled to a record new high, up more than 5,000 percent

so far this year with a total value -- market value of $32 billion.

Paul La Monica is here. All right, it is very simple. What is justifying if such? What's justifying this rise?

PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: I don't really know, Richard, if you can say anything is justifying this rise. Obviously, people are pointing to

the Elon Musk tweet, I'm not sure what he is going to do next. Maybe tweet a photo of Doge's playing poker. Maybe that painting can get some

credibility on twitter.

But, obviously, the coin-based direct listing this week has been a good sign for the crypto currency world writ large. It's had Bitcoin going up

and Ether as well. But, Richard, Bitcoin and Ether have use cases. You can understand why Bitcoin, which is being increasingly adopted by the likes of

Square and PayPal, you can understand why it's going up.

And Ether is used in a lot of these non-fungible token transactions that have been all the rage this year as well. Dogecoin started out as a joke.

Maybe it's finally becoming legit because Elon Musk is just pushing it to the moon, as he pointed out in his tweet.

QUEST: I wonder where it's all going here, Paul? It's got a feeling, never mind Dogecoin. It's got a feeling of out of dodge.

LA MONICA: Yes. I mean, it is clearly getting Bubbalicious when you look at how the value has gone up so dramatically in such a short period of time.

But maybe this is a case of, you know, like that quote from "Field of Dreams." You know, "If you build it, they will come." It's more like if

Elon Musk tweets about it, they will come.

And Dogecoin is now -- it started as a joke but it's in the top 10 of market value for all cryptocurrencies. It's up there with the big boys like

Bitcoin and Ether. It's goofy, and I'm not sure how much longer it'll last, but we said the same thing about GameStop stock and AMC and other meme

stocks. Clearly, this is another example of the retail investor, maybe a lot of them still bored sitting at home with a lot of stimulus money using

that on goofy little investments.

But, God bless them, I guess.

QUEST: Get rich quick schemes. That's what it's about.

LA MONICA: It worked so well in the late '90s with internet stocks. We all remember how that turned out.

QUEST: I still hold one or two of them just to remind myself of the beauty of hubris. Paul La Monica, thank you.

LA MONICA: -- all over again.

QUEST: Absolutely. Paul, that reminds me of some of those dreadful stocks and then, the losses that we all nursed as a result.

Dogecoin though started as a joke, and there are good reasons why some investors refuse to take it seriously, practical reasons. It has unlimited

supply. That's crucial because it has the ability to devalue yourself that makes people highly suspicious.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, has a fixed supply of 21 million coins. It's like gold in the sense that there's a limited supply once you can get it

and once you've got it that's all there is.


QUEST: Most of those of the Bitcoin has already been mined, and the scarcity protects its value. Dogecoin has an infinite supply and its uses

are very limited at the moment, mostly for tipping on social media and for laughs.

If there is a meme coin, it is backers promoted that way on social media.

Meltem Demirors is the Chief Strategy Officer at Coinshares, a digital asset investment firm. She joins us from Portsmouth in New Hampshire.

Okay, you've heard the discussion that we were having. We will talk about the validity of its case, if you like, in a moment.

Firstly, your impression of its market volatility over the last few days and weeks.

I think you might be muted.

MELTEM DEMIRORS, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, COINSHARES: As you've said, Richard -- great to be here -- Doge up 500 percent in the last seven days,

$48 billion market cap making it the fifth largest crypto currency.

Giving your listeners and viewers a little bit of context, SBY is the most widely traded and held ETF in the world. It traded around $25 billion of

volume in yesterday's sessions. Dogecoin, the coin that basically defines memes in crypto has traded $70 billion in volume in the last 24 hours. So

3x as the SBY volume, which is crazy.

And really what I think we're seeing here is markets and crypto move very quickly. I'll also mention Wall Street Bets, the online investing community

on Reddit that had blocked discussions about crypto for the last few years on Tuesday ahead of the Coinbase listing opened up discussion on just three

crypto currencies -- Bitcoin, Ether, and, you better believe it, Doge.

QUEST: Okay. But here's the difficulty. To a larger extent, as Paul La Monica was saying. Ether has legitimate purposes that now people are using

it for. Bitcoin has a scarcity that is admirable for fiscal conservatives who believe in the probity of that sort of thing.

Doge doesn't have any of those things. This is either pure speculation, or it's bordering on irresponsible. Which is it?

DEMIRORS: I think it's speculation. The story here is very similar to the GameStop and AMC story. These are retail manias that we've seen around

specific assets.

With Doge, we've seen a tremendous amount of social media activity, people making songs on TikTok about it, people trying to meme doge to $1.00.

The catalyst here really was, yesterday night, Wall Street Bets banned discussion of Dogecoin. And, as a result, the retail trading community went

into a buying frenzy. In addition, Robinhood shut down crypto trading for a few hours on its app. It was only just restored this morning.

So really what we're seeing here I think is a classic retail mania. But what we've learned from Game and other manias is the market can stay much

more irrational for a very long period of time than shorters can stay solvent.

So we'll have to see what unfolds.

QUEST: Do you -- what role in all of this does Coinbase play, do you think?

DEMIRORS: Yes, I think the big trend around Coinbase has been obviously ahead of the Coinbase listing, we saw a lot of traders going long Bitcoin

going into the news. On Tuesday, as the Coinbase stocks started trading on Tuesday and throughout the week at lower pricing than expected, we saw a

lot of Bitcoin lever trades coming off, a lot of these calls getting wound down, which resulted in downward price action for Bitcoin as people took

these long-dated calls off the table.

QUEST: So, for those viewers -- I mean, the QUEST MEANS BUSINESS viewer is well acquire of cryptocurrencies. But I think we don't really fully

understand yet away from the mere speculation of trading with it, and the speculative element, what is the principal purpose that most of these

cryptos are being used for, do we know?

DEMIRORS: Oh, we absolutely don't know in some cases. As you alluded to, Doge and many other coins may not have a specific defined use. But, again,

Bitcoin has a very specific use. Bitcoin is being used as a store value and a portfolio diversifier. It's being used as an alternative asset.

Allocators are using it for portfolio diversification.

Ethereum as you alluded to, is also being used as a portfolio diversifier, but also being used a lot in decentralized finance and new types of capital

markets activity that happen on a blockchain instead of in a financial institution.


DEMIRORS: And then there are a number of other assets that are still very early in their development in growth, but they are finding very specific

use cases within specific communities, whether that's web development or something else.

QUEST: I just wanted to quickly have a chance to ask you, this idea of unlimited supply. Now, even though the organizers of Doge have said they

basically discussed taking the cap and removing the cap and those sort of things and they have increased it. Is that significant? Does this create

fears, you know, Weimar Republic of inflationary -- it's not big enough to have that effect. But if somebody is going to print the wazoo out of this

thing, then eventually we devalue that which is there.

DEMIRORS: Right, so, Richard, hold on. I'm here in the United States of America. We've seen over 20 percent of all dollars in existence being

printed in the last 12 months.

I'm not worried about Dogecoin. I'm worried about my dollars, right, so, I think in context, I'm much more worried about the money printing happening

with the U.S. dollar than I am any printing happening in the crypto ecosystem.

QUEST: I guess, what I meant by that -- it's a good point. It is a good point though.

DEMIRORS: I mean, come on.

QUEST: I guess what I meant by that is, in terms of -- no, no, what I meant, in terms of -- I wasn't talking economically, I was talking about in

terms of Doge, in terms of Doge. If you keep printing the thing, eventually you will debase and devalue that which you have printed.

DEMIRORS: Of course. And, look, there are many crypto currencies where there is a central entity that can choose to create more tokens. Right?

This is something that happens.

This is why I think we see a lot of the investment community gravitating towards Bitcoin. Again, over 55 percent of the crypto market cap is

Bitcoin. Another 15 percent is Ether. So the majority value is really in these top two networks.

And then there is a long tail of assets out there who have questionable economic models certainly.

And, look, I'm not a Doge believer myself, but these speculative manias have a life of their own.

QUEST: Meltem, it's your first time with us on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Please allow me to invite you to become a regular and to at least join us when we

talk about these things. Love to have you on the program. Thank you very much, indeed.

DEMIRORS: Thanks so much. Thank you, Richard.

QUEST: As we continue tonight, the head of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker says the pandemic will do more damage to the aviation industry. Akbar tells

me there won't be many airlines left by the time it's over, in a moment.




QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. A lot more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS as we continue this Friday. The chief executive of Qatar Airways tells me the

rebound in international travel is threatened by the uneven pandemic recovery. And despite soaring deaths and struggling healthcare system,

Brazil's largest city is still planning to reopen its economy. We'll talk about all of that. First though this is CNN and here on this network. The

facts always come first.

Cuba's leader Raul Castro has confirmed he will step down as CEO of the country's Communist Party. He made the announcement during a party Congress

only moments ago. He also criticized increased U.S. sanctions but call for a respectful dialogue between the two countries. This was placed which is

expected to be picked by the time the four-day event ends on Monday.

At least eight people have been killed in the latest blast. That's the latest (INAUDIBLE) mass shooting in America. This one happened on Thursday

night in the State of Indiana. Police say the gunman randomly opened Florida FedEx facility before apparently taking his own life. Several

people were wounded, at least five have been taken to hospital.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his government is banning eight current and former U.S. officials from entering the country. And that

includes the FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Intelligence director Avril Haines and the Attorney General Merrick Garland. Lavrov is

is calling it tit for tat response to Washington imposing new sanctions on Moscow. Russia is also expelling 10 U.S. diplomats.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has received her first shot of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. A spokesman made the announcement on

Twitter with a photograph of the vaccination certificate. But also quoted the 66-year-old chancellor saying vaccines are key to overcoming the


English town of Windsor is preparing for the funeral of Prince Phillip on Saturday. What has been paying their respects, laying flowers outside the

castle. The ceremony will be held there with a military procession, no crowds will be allowed because of the pandemic and of course, there is live

coverage of the funeral here on CNN.

The chief executive of Qatar Airways says he expects a lot of other airlines will disappear before this pandemic is over. Akbar Al Baker sat

down with me for a wide ranging exclusive interview at Hamad International Airport in Doha. I started by asking him what the past year had been like

and with the aviation industry's worst crisis.


AKBAR AL BAKER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, QATAR AIRWAYS: It is something that no CEO of an airline would ever want to face.

QUEST: So far, airlines left, right and center are closing down, stopping flying, or simply laying off vast numbers. 90 percent of international



QUEST: Of course, the world's major airlines are firing very badly in this current crisis. And the numbers are starting to really reflect exactly how

bad the situation is.


AL BAKER: We had got into uncharted waters, not knowing what to do, where to start, what actions to take, and how to accommodate this big shock that

the industry suddenly face.

QUEST: Did you have to go to the - to your boss, your shareholder, the ruler. Did you have go to him and say, I'm going to need money. This is how

much I'm going to need. Here's the bill.

AL BAKER: So I couldn't just jump the queue and go and tell my boss, the ruler of my country, that our situation is so dire, and this is what we

need. Because I am sure there were a lot of other people in the queue before me telling him the same thing.

QUEST: But there was a moment when you did have to go and ask.

AL BAKER: Yes, I had to go to my shareholder which is the government and to tell them that this is what we predict will happen. And this is the funding

that we that we will require.

QUEST: How much was that?

AL BAKER: And -- it was $3 billion which we wanted to keep us going.


AL BAKER: And we got that.

QUEST: Your critics will say this has just a water that was already cloudy with those Gulf carriers getting more subsidies through the backdoor. And

even if they accept that they've taken loans, they will say there's a transparency about their loans and their shareholdings that does not exist.

AL BAKER: Look, they should not look at other people before they look at themselves. They have not only received subsidy, they have received massive

loans, including subsidies, and they have received salary support to keep employees employed. We didn't get any of that. We got an equity injection.

And when you look at the amount of equity injection we got, is the lowest equity injection of all the airlines of our size.

So they have no leg to stand on their argument. This is always their argument because they want to stifle competition, so that they keep on

raising their fares and taking their passengers to the wall.

QUEST: The vaccines are already in the advance or the developed world. But so many of your flights are to those countries that may not reach

vaccination levels for months, if not several years. So, this is going to be a real problem for you, isn't it?

AL BAKER: It will not only be a problem for me alone, it will be a problem for the aviation industry. And we will have to work away within this risks

that we will have to take. But we will have to do things, we'll have to put processes, we'll have to put systems in place to mitigate that risk.

QUEST: So tell me what you've done here. I mean, we are now -- we are now a year into the pandemic. Travel is underway. The airports are quieter. But

what measures have you taken? Show me.

AL BAKER: Well, we have taken a lot of my -- first of all, let me show you these individuals. We have them all over the airport, they are constantly

monitoring people's temperatures. In case you have a high temperature, it will immediately show them in their lens.

QUEST: What would you do if it was high?

AL BAKER: If it is high, then he will immediately notify the paramedics here we have, and then they will immediately isolate the person and then do

the necessary tests that we may need to do because we have a full-fledged clinic at the airport.

QUEST: Have you actually spotted anybody? Have you actually -- ha it actually worked?

AL BAKER: It has. Not very often because already there are temperature sensors before you enter the building.

QUEST: Right.

AL BAKER: So, you know, we have several levels of checks. So that if one escapes, then there is other levels which will detect the person. This is

U.V. that is constantly disinfecting all the surfaces, and all the check in counters and all fixtures in the airport. And we have over 12 of them that

are constantly operating around.

QUEST: What do they do?

AL BAKER: You see this stamp there?

QUEST: Yes, yes.

AL BAKER: The ultraviolet light starts emitting from there and hitting the surfaces where it

disinfects to the level of an operating data.

QUEST: We've heard so much about the hyper filters and the air flow up and down and -- but people are still very hesitant. They still are suspicious

that the aircraft is a safe environment to be in.

AL BAKER: Well, you know, you can never elevate suspicion of people in everything you do. But I can assure you, in Qatar Airways, for example, our

crew are insistent that people keep their masks on, we make sure that people are not loitering around without proper protection. And that is only

so much you can do to allay that fear. But I can assure you as the CEO of an airline, and of course, my biggest priority is to protect my passengers

and my crew that all the precautions we have taken and the measurements we take of infections on airplane is minimal.

QUEST: Do you think that consolidation within the industry is done?

AL BAKER: Frankly, I don't think there will be anything left for consolidation. By the time this pandemic is over, there will only be few

airlines that are strong and will continue operating. A lot of other airlines will go under. And this will continue to happen, because we have

not seen the worst of it over yet.


AL BAKER: If this pandemic prolongs for too long, this will completely destroy the world's economy which is so dependent on airlines for

delivering business, cutting freight around, and most importantly creating jobs.


QUEST: The Chief head of Qatar Airways Akbar Al Baker. Now, one major obstacle to restarting international travel is arising COVID infections at

the moment. The World Health Organization says the number of new cases per week has nearly doubled over the last two months, approaching the highest

rate of the entire pandemic. In Brazil, it's one of the worst hits. At the moment, it's still in the grip of a devastating outbreak.

Intensive care units are now at capacity. Some have run out of sedatives to treat patients. And yet Sao Paulo, the most popular state is preparing to

ease some restrictions after a decrease in patients with severe conditions. And yet, overall, the country's outbreak remains serious with 113 million

cases. Stefano Pozzebon is following the story from neighboring Colombia. OK. So, if we assume, Stefano that they are not either bad, evil or mad in

some part of the authorities, why do you think they're doing this? Why are they saying that they believe it is safe to reopen parts of the economy?

STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think, Richard, disease in a very good example of the very thin line that local administrations all over the

world but particularly here in Latin America, Richard that have to walk in dealing with the pandemic. You're right in saying that Sao Paulo is nowhere

near a safe position to reopen even though the administrators are saying that the occupancy rate of the ICU have decreased in the in the last 15

days or so.

From over 90 percent at the very beginning of April to just over 85 percent today. That's still a very top, a very high number, Richard. But also,

let's remember the economic cost of keeping in a city like Sao Paolo, shut down if Brazil is the economic powerhouse of South America, Sau Paulo is

definitely the economic powerhouse of Brazil. They're seeing yesterday that China, for example, is celebrating record growth over 18 percent in the

first quarter of the first of these year.

Brazil expect to grow 3 percent year on year and disease after one of the most dramatic economic crisis that hit the nation in 2020. So, it's a very

thin line and the local administration fail that if they don't open the economy, or at least some parts of the economy now, the situation --

economic situation will be much, much worse. And remember, this is Latin America. This is where a lot of the economic sector is informal.

If you don't work today, you don't eat today and local administrators are as worried of the economic impact as they are of the health emergency that

is now impacting the Latin America largest economy, Richard.

QUEST: Stefano, thank you. Now China says its economy is growing at a record pace at more than 18 percent from a year ago. The quarter over

quarter number tells a much different story.



QUEST: It's all to Call to Earth. Our initiative where together we promote a more sustainable future. We're in the Atlantic forest in Brazil today is

one of the world's most ecologically diverse regions. There have been of course decades of destruction. Consequently, only fragments remain which is

why Rolex Awards Laureate Laury Cullen's plan for bringing it back is so important.



is seeing the size of the change we can really make. Is it really possible to bring out that forest back?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Laury Cullen has dedicated his life to restoring the Atlantic Forest in Brazil after witnessing the destruction of

his birthplace.

CULLEN: The Western Sao Paulo Atlantic forest range used to be a very, you know, green continuous, beautiful landscape. What used to be 100 percent of

forest cover now is only two percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Decades of deforestation have led to a significant reduction of one of the world's most diverse habitats. All that

remains of the forest are isolated fragments. This means many species are now under threat, as they no longer have the ability to disperse.

CULLEN: The wildlife, especially, you know, jaguars, pumas, ocelots, they are very isolate a small forest patches, they cannot see each other. That's

when we started having problems of inbreeding depression that can kill the local population in a very short term.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Cullen and his team use a targeted approach to forest restoration taking what's left of the fragments and

planting in corridors. These proposed corridors aim to connect the fragments and act almost like an express highway for local species.

CULLEN: To Dream App, is putting priorities were where the forest should really be to make sure we put the right corridors in the right places.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): To date, Cullen and his team had restored 3000 hectares of forest and tell us they have already seen at least half of

native species using them, including some animals at most risk of extinction.

CULLEN: Today is already possible to see the lion families, the families of these little monkey by themselves using some of the forest corridors that

we have put back. If we just keep on going the survival of this much endangered species will be OK in the long term.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Cullen is motivated by both the community and climate benefits to reforestation, but his accomplishments represent a

transformation that is as much personal as it is philanthropic.

CULLEN: I used to be a hunter and my father used to take me hunting in Amazon. So that's how I got in contact with forests, killing a lot of

endangered species. But now I'm doing my part to pull out his forest back, trying to redeem all the bad reputation that I had in the past.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Cullen's efforts benefit not only the landscape, but also the communities living on it.

CULLEN: People are really part of the restoration equation. Every restoration that we do is done by the local people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Cullen and his team have set themselves the ambitious target of bringing back corridors to cover 60,000 hectares of

land, equating to 20 percent of the whole region.


CULLEN: We have a vision, we have a mission, and we have a map and that's it. We're not going to give up. We have a lot to do.


QUEST: We'll continue to showcase those inspirational stories as part of the initiative. Magnificent, the forest, the beauty and we now want you to

tell us what you're doing to answer the call. Use the #calltoearth.


QUEST: China's economy has roared back to life compared to this time last year, at least the GDP number sought to a record level in Q1. And it was

retail sales are up 34 percent. That looks exceptionally impressive until you realize as Selina Wang reports, the rebound may be leveling off.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chinese posted its strongest quarterly growth on record reporting 18.3 percent growth in the first quarter. This

is a jaw-dropping number but this massive jump was expected. What this number shows is how much China's economy grew compared to the same period

last year when much of Chinese economy was shut down because of the pandemic.

Yet looking beyond this headline number the data still shows that China is continuing the strong economic rebound from the pandemic. Retail sales,

which took a big hit last year jumped more than 30 percent showing that the Chinese consumers coming back. Investments and manufacturing and

infrastructure also increased. Trade data also showed demand in China is picking up. Imports and exports both jumped by more than 30 percent.

Now the backdrop here is that the global economy has been recovering faster than expected as the global vaccine rollout continues. Both the U.S. and

China are expected to be key engines of global growth this year. And that global recovery is going to help fuel China's growth in exports. But in the

long term, Chinese economy faces major hurdles, unemployment remains high. Rising geopolitical tensions could hurt trade.

It's also dealing with a rapidly falling birth rate. And on a quarterly basis, China's GDP only grew 0.6 percent. That shows that China's post

COVID rebound may be finally leveling off. Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.

QUEST: And with those thoughts in mind, let's look at the last moments on Wall Street as we come to the end of a busy day.


QUEST: It's been a strong day for the Dow, well over 34,000 and on track for a record high. Investors going into the weekend on an optimistic note

and the reason is positive economic -- new economic data that the scenario is now becoming very clear. The strength of the U.S. economy is somewhat

obvious. Now, it's become a mixed day for tech. Cisco's at the top, Boeing is at the bottom.

Boeing obviously got 737 Max problems because of wiring out of the cockpit, which is causing some planes to be -- 77 Max's has to now be grounded. So

that's why Boeing is down. Banks doing well having had results, IMAX, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, they've had excellent results. The market is all

up as a result. You and I will rejoin in a moment for a profitable moment.


QUEST: We're at a very difficult moment when it comes to travel. Tonight's profitable moment. Greece and Portugal, true aficionados after summer

holiday are starting to pardon the pun dipped their toe in the water, working out the safe ways in which they can reopen their economy as well.

Frank Del Rio of Norwegian cruises told us this evening, he's furious with the CDC, the Center for Disease Control for not approving their robust plan

all-vaccinated cruises, out of America.

(INAUDIBLE) apparently replied to his emails and Akbar Al Baker our backer of Qatar Airways expresses his concerns between the state of recovery in

the developed and the developing world. Why do I putting all this together? Because we'd hoped by now things would be getting better. And that

vacations, summer holidays would become the norm. But it doesn't seem like it's going to be that way for some time.

And that means we are going to have to rethink. Still be careful, still wear masks, even if you're vaccinated. Be aware that you could be carrying

the virus. Put it together, and it means we've traveled industry still has quite a bit of pain to go. And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm

Richard Quest in New York. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, oh, to be back. I hope it's profitable.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. And we start with our national lead today. The epidemic of gun violence in the United