Return to Transcripts main page
Quest Means Business
Joe Biden Scales Up Pressure On Netanyahu; E.U. Moves To Reopen Borders; Bitcoin Plummets After China Regulatory Crackdown; Blinken And Lavrov To Meet At Arctic Council Gathering; Indian P.M. Modi Promises Relief For Cyclone Victims; African Union Orders 400 Million Doses Of J&J Vaccine. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired May 19, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It's an hour to the closing bell, and we are experiencing three days and three sessions of losses. Today is
pretty grim. It looks like it could be the worst of the week, down one -- well, down 400 points. So under 34,000 and it looks like a bit of support
came into the market in the afternoon, bottom fishing out, I would guess.
Anyway, that's the way the markets are. We will be talking about how and why. But also, these are the main events of the day.
Joe Biden is ramping up the pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu, calling for significant de-escalation in the Middle East.
In Europe, plans to reopen for some vaccinated tourists who are outside the E.U., and the calamity on the cryptocurrency courtesy of China. We will
We are live in New York. It is Wednesday. It is the 19th of May. I'm Richard Quest and I mean business.
Good evening. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is defying a U.S. call to de-escalate attacks on Gaza. The Prime Minister says the
attacks will continue until Israel's objective is achieved in his words.
The White House says President Biden made himself clear during his latest phone call with Netanyahu on Wednesday. The U.S. President wanted a
significant de-escalation of Israel's bombardment of Gaza today and a path towards a ceasefire.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister visited a Military Command Center in the day. Afterwards, he publicly thanked the U.S. President for his support and said
Israel would restore quiet and security to its citizens.
For the military activity of the day, warplanes are still pounding targets in Gaza, such as this one in Khan Yunis towards the south. Israeli Defense
Forces says it was a Hamas weapons depot.
And sirens continued to wail in Ashdod in Israel that signaled incoming rocket fire from Hamas, but also we heard further north near Haifa. The IDF
says four rockets were launched in that direction this time from southern Lebanon.
Nic Robertson is CNN's diplomatic editor. He's in Ashdod not far from the Gaza border. Let's do the military first, Nic. And then we can do the
diplomatic, the military events of the day, how would you describe them?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They've been happening, temporary perhaps, the same as yesterday. We were at an artillery position,
an Israeli Defense Force artillery position about a couple of miles from Gaza. There are a lot of intercepts in the sky, particularly around dusk,
that particular artillery position was quiet, but another one nearby was firing shells into Gaza.
Just in the last few minutes here, we've been able to hear some loud explosions coming from the direction of Gaza. The Israeli Air Force says
that this evening, within the past hour or so, it's been targeting rocket launchers, Hamas rocket launchers and Hamas themselves say that they've
fired missiles into a couple of towns in the south of Israel.
So how does it look compared to yesterday? I would say about the same.
QUEST: And would you say about the same on the diplomatic front in a moment or three, we will hear from Kaitlan Collins at the White House, but give me
from an Israeli perspective, as you're there, how they will be viewing this ratcheting up by -- supposed ratcheting up by President Biden?
ROBERTSON: Well, let's say Netanyahu and Biden were in the ring, and over the past few days, it's been warming up. Biden has been sort of throwing a
punch and Netanyahu has been -- has landed and it's been, you know, talk about a ceasefire, but now he says pressure for a ceasefire.
And I think, you know, using that analogy of the ring, Biden has metaphorically landed a punch on Netanyahu's plans to continue this
operation and Netanyahu hasn't flinched -- and that's what we've seen here. He said, no, we're going to continue. We still have operations. We still
have targets. We continue to degrade Hamas.
The reality of the situation, the pressure is on, so I think a lot of Israelis were expecting either a huge push by the Air Force tonight to take
out a final round of targets because the military commanders think they've taken out a huge number of targets, and there may not be many left easily
So either a big push tonight, or perhaps we'll see overnight, a de- escalation, but there are caveats here. Let's say Hamas fires rockets on Jerusalem and there are significant casualties. That's going to change.
QUEST: Nic, stay with me. Stay with me. We're going -- because I want to bring in Kaitlan Collins who is at the White House, our chief White House
correspondent. Now sources, Kaitlan say at the State Department telling CNN, they believe Israel is now getting to the point, it is close to
running out of fixed targets.
Now this this conversation, this supposed direct conversation with Netanyahu and the President, what's your understanding?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's becoming clear that the pressure is building from the international
community, from Democrats here at home on President Biden to call for a ceasefire and his patience seems to be running thin as well.
And so that is why you saw in that readout, the White House went further than it has gone during these 10 days of violence that have gone forward
saying that he wants not just you know, generally by today, he wants to see a significant de-escalation in the violence on the path to a ceasefire and
that is notable for so many reasons.
But mainly because if you look at the readouts of the four calls that President Biden has had with the Prime Minister since the violence has
started, they have been really reluctant to use the word ceasefire. They have been repeatedly saying we defend Israel's right to support -- or
support Israel's right to defend itself.
And now, not only are they mentioning a ceasefire, they are saying that's where they want to go. They want to see a deadline of the de-escalation of
violence by today. And also they don't repeat that statement that they've put in nearly every other one where it says that Israel does have the right
to support itself that was absent from the readout that the White House issued today.
QUEST: Right, Kaitlan, people -- obviously, the White House knows we parse these things to a great extent. So the White House knows that we will be
making the interpretation that you are putting upon it, but it's one thing just -- it's one thing, just to use words, how far do you think the
President is going to go to publicly break with Netanyahu? And anyway, what pressure has he got he can put on them?
COLLINS: Well, I think one, it depends on how long this goes forward. Does Netanyahu actually heed the President's warnings and actually de-escalate
in a way that's notable, depending on what happens and what transpires over the next few hours, that's a risk that the White House is taking. And they
knew that they would be taking it if they'd called for a ceasefire earlier this week, when they were facing that pressure.
Because if you call for a ceasefire, there's not all this chance that there will be a ceasefire, and then it looks like the White House has used its
leverage. And of course, it has pretty much used it up and now has to wait and see what Netanyahu decides.
The other thing that's hanging in the balance here that we haven't really gotten reporting that this could be in play, but it is something to
consider on the periphery, which is that $735 million proposed arms sale to Israel that the White House let Congress know about before this violence
But it's still in that 15-day window. And so whether or not lawmakers call for restrictions on that is something that is also I think, weighing on the
White House's mind when looking at how to approach this.
QUEST: And back to you, Nic. So listening to what Kaitlan was saying both on the question of the arms deal, and what the President has done, if
Netanyahu -- give us the diplomatic picture, global diplomatic picture, if he doesn't accede, what happens then from the Israeli and from the Middle
East, and from all the other actors point of view -- the E.U., Jordan, Egypt, if Netanyahu is seen not to de-escalate, thus thumbing his nose at
ROBERTSON: Yes, I think it was significant that Prime Minister Netanyahu when he spoke today described President Biden as "our friend." You know, I
think that that's significant, but let's not underplay that. So you know, he is using the language that, you know, this is a friend and we're not
going to -- we don't want to disappoint our friend.
I think Prime Minister Netanyahu probably feels as long as President Biden is in his corner, whatever else he is hearing from whatever other leader,
he can withstand that because the United States stands squarely behind him.
We don't know all the details of what President Biden has said to Prime Minister Netanyahu, but it would seem that if Prime Minister Netanyahu was
to really go against what President Biden is saying here, then that would really damage the relationship and Netanyahu really wants to be re-elected
-- really wants to remain Prime Minister. It's a relationship that's quite possibly going to need for Netanyahu's purposes to endure over the next
four years, it would be a big gamble on his part to really break that.
But if he feels is out of office and all that's over then then it's all care to the wind, perhaps.
QUEST: You both will be watching the story from your various sides. Kaitlan at the White House, Nic Robertson in Israel, come back when there's more to
tell us. Thank you both.
Now, the bit we've all been waiting for it. So get your passports ready, especially if you're looking for a European vacation.
The E.U. is preparing to reopen its borders in time for summer. There is a catch, of course, only if you're vaccinated. After the break. QUEST MEANS
QUEST: A year after closing its borders, the European Union has agreed to welcome back vaccinated tourists and people from countries that are deemed
safe. Now, the list hasn't come out yet. The move will come as a relief to the travel industry even if there are a lot of details to work out.
For instance, there is no list of approved countries; that will come later this week, we believe. Also, no date when the recommendations will take
effect. This is basically in principle. E.U. officials are said to be hoping for June.
And E.U. members will still have the final word on whether visitors need to show proof of vaccination or negative test for COVID or indeed have some
sort of quarantine.
Lily Girma is the Global Tourism Reporter for "Skift" and joins me from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, joins me via Skype. So, what do you
make of these new rules? They've sort of given us a basic architecture, but they haven't gone down to the plumbing.
LILY GIRMA, GLOBAL TOURISM REPORTER, "SKIFT": Yes. So nice to be here, Richard. Thank you for having me.
Yes, we still don't have a date, as you said, and also some of the European countries have actually gone right ahead and already announced reopening.
France said it was opening on June 9 for Americans, Malta is opening on June 1. Italy has started with COVID test flights.
So a range of European countries are already sort of ahead of that and issuing even their own passports.
QUEST: So how significant is it that the E.U. has at least -- I mean, the U.K. has got its traffic light system. The U.S. hasn't really got anything
at the moment. How significant is it that the E.U. has come forward with this -- with the enormous pent up demand that we know about?
GIRMA: It's very significant. It's certainly the first major light in a tunnel since last year's border closures, you know, and no travel between
the E.U. and the U.S., and it also means that vaccinations have advanced quite significantly both in the U.S. as well as some of the major European
destinations and including the U.K.
But you know, they are basically coming forward and saying okay, we're going to use science-based data and we're going to look at a certain
criterion, which is no more than 75 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days.
So they're trying to come up with some sort of uniform criteria for countries to consider. So that's a step forward.
QUEST: And we know that there has been this discussion between the E.U. and the U.S. and the U.K. in the U.S. over sort of corridors and bubbles, which
don't seem to have gotten much further, at least, we don't know anything about them.
But what I wonder is, nobody has cracked the nut of how you verify the validity of somebody's vaccination certificate, Travel Pass, CommonPass,
nobody manages -- there's no -- there is no one size fits all.
GIRMA: Well, the E.U. is coming out with its COVID green certificate, early June, they said, so that should pretty much come at the same time as the
formal announcement of reopening borders to international travelers, and supposedly, this system will be able to certify three things, whether
you're fully vaccinated, as well as, you know, a negative test or sort of certifying the fact that you've had COVID in the past and have recovered.
So, this will be using the E.U. region. But again, it's just one region. Right?
So the U.S. doesn't have anything similar to that yet.
QUEST: Ed Bastian said last week on this program -- Ed Bastian of Delta said that he thought that most of travel for the airlines, anyway, you
know, in terms of the U.S. carriers would be domestic U.S. He did not see significant transatlantic tourism happening. Certainly not in the first
half, arguably not much at all until the fall across the Atlantic. Do you think he's right?
GIRMA: I think I have to agree with that. And I think that our airline team has also said that along those lines, even though JetBlue just announced, I
believe today that they're launching their London flight in August, I think it is -- New York-London. So I think they're really optimistic -- it is
looking better, but I do agree that it's going to be mostly domestic, and it's going to be a huge domestic boom, travel in the U.S.
QUEST: Lily, thank you and you beautifully talked about, it looks like we planned it. You've talked about JetBlue, and it is August the 11th that
they start their flight. Later in this program, Robin Hayes, the CEO of JetBlue will be with us -- thank you, Lily -- will be with us to discuss
exactly that question.
Why he is starting his flight on August the 11th when most people don't believe that there'll be much transatlantic travel until the fall,
arguably. He has only got one flight, but anyway, we'll be talking to Robin Hayes, the CEO about that in a moment or three.
Also, a Chinese crackdown on cryptocurrency trading is fueling a massive selloff. Bitcoin is down, over 10 percent. It is off 40 percent from last
month's record high. New regulations have got investors scared.
China is telling its banks, they can't exchange crypto or finance crypto services. And the price volatility and speculation according to the
regulators is harming the safety of people's property. Even though China is a major hub for Bitcoin mining, Beijing has taken a wary approach, working
on its own digital currency.
Paul La Monica is here. So essentially, they did more than just prick the balloon or the bubble of Bitcoin speculation, didn't they? The Chinese
regulator pretty much almost buried it.
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, and it's a trio of regulators, Richard, that all said that Chinese financial institutions should not be
using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies in financial transactions, which is obviously a major worry for Bitcoin bulls because you've got a couple of
things that have been driving Bitcoin prices higher. One of it is that, okay, it's going to be something for investors to buy as a hedge against
inflation, it's the new digital gold, et cetera.
But there also have been growing expectations that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies would legitimately be the future of money, an engine of
financial transactions. If is world's largest -- second largest economy and the world's most populous nation isn't going to let financial institutions
use it for that expressed purpose then that obviously deflates one of the big bull thesis for Bitcoin right now.
QUEST: But this is only serious if the decision sticks and stays. And that I ask you, Paul, is this decision based on legitimate financial issues? Or
is there a hefty political element to it that could change with the wind?
LA MONICA: Yes, I'm not so sure it's a political element as much as it is that China and many other countries around the world including potentially
the U.S. down the road, we will see what the Fed eventually decides with a digital dollar for example. Many countries realize that Bitcoin and other
digital currencies have gained real traction, and there is this argument that fiat money, paper money printed by governments is not something that
consumers and investors should be putting their money in.
So there is going to be, I think, an element of China and other countries looking to come up with an alternative, a digital Yuan, a digital dollar, a
digital euro, what have you and that potentially could be something that limits the use case for Bitcoin, for Ether and some other digital
QUEST: That, of course only applies if they have -- to be pari-passu with a Bitcoin, you've got to have a limit, haven't you, Paul, on the amount you
would issue because that's the beauty of it, it can't be devalued, which is exactly -- look, that's a subject for another day. Paul La Monica, thank
The markets and how they are trading, we take a look and you'll see, it has been a really horrible day. I say horrible, sort of mini horrible, down
over one percent for the Dow and similarly, half a percent, three quarter of a percent for the other major indices.
We are joined by Myron Brilliant now. He is the Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Chevy
Myron, good to have you. This is very interesting now, because companies -- we have a situation where companies are doing business in -- there's a
reopening underway in major markets like the United States and the U.K., and soon there will be more in Europe. But at the same time, the economic
situation is extremely cloudy and remains unclear. Where do we go?
MYRON BRILLIANT NOW, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Well, Richard, first off, it's good to
see you again. It's been a while, I think last time I was on was pre- pandemic, and boy has the world changed since then.
But look, I think we have an unclear health situation, too. We're seeing, as you suggested signs of recovery here, first a healthy recovery in the
United States, even in Europe, but the economic recovery around the world is uneven, as you suggested, and all we need to look to is hotspots like
India and see the potential draw down on the economic recovery if we don't fix the global challenges we see around the world, in emerging markets,
India is the hotspot today, somewhere else in Southeast Asia could be hotspot, Brazil, Mexico, places like that in Latin America.
So, you know, the United States is coming through this pretty strong, I think we're going to have a healthy GDP forecast, but there's a lot of work
to be done in a global sense to address the pandemic impact.
QUEST: Right. But if we -- if you allow me to be parochial for a second and we talk about the ability of U.S. companies to rely on a domestic market,
as the airlines are going to be doing, you know, can domestic sales, can domestic commerce get U.S. businesses through?
BRILLIANT: Well, I think a couple of things. First off, small businesses were pretty resilient. You know, one out of three really survived through
this difficult time and we are seeing small businesses come up. Obviously, the digital age and the transformation in our economy, in the world economy
has helped those small businesses stay connected to their customers, and expand their businesses here and abroad, so that's helped.
Certainly, there are segments of our industries that have been really hit hard -- tourism, obviously, airlines, and that's coming back, it's going to
come back over the next six months as we recover from the health crisis that we face in this country.
We still have more work to do. We want everyone to get vaccinated, but we're on that road to recovery. So I think there are some signs of
optimism, and that's what you see. There's still a lot of work to be done for example, in the policy arena, let's get that infrastructure package
done. We have to modernize our infrastructure in really profound ways, right? We're not just talking about ports and roads, we're talking about
the digital framework.
So there's a good effort underway in Congress and with the administration, the business committee very much wants this. This would be a job creator.
This would help create a stimulus in our economy. So there's work to be done on the policy front, and hopefully we'll get it done.
QUEST: The market tells us -- is telling us something. I'm not sure what it's telling us at the moment. Other than that they're worried about
inflation. The market seems to be worried about higher interest rates.
Larry Summers, you'll have seen during the course of the week, basically thinks the Fed is asleep at the wheel or at least perhaps even worse, is
driving in the wrong direction deliberately, in his view. What do companies believe at the moment?
BRILLIANT: Well, companies are watching as you suggested commodity prices going up. There's mixed data coming out of China. The growth rates are not
as high as maybe they had been forecasted earlier. There are still uneven returns around the world including Europe.
BRILLIANT: And then of course, we have India, which is now a hotspot. And you know, we're very concerned. We have millions of people working for U.S.
companies in India. So we're concerned about India as a nation, we're concerned about the workers there.
So there's reasons to have caution. But even though we have caution, I think there's more reason to be optimistic about what's going on in our
country and the kinds of investment companies are willing to make now that they see the health crisis moving behind us. There's a light at the end of
the tunnel on that. And so if we can get through this period, I think we can really see strong U.S. growth, but inflation worries are of course out
there as well.
QUEST: Good to talk to you, Myron, we will talk again. I'm aghast when you remind me how long it is since we've spoken. So that is clearly something I
need to rectify and make sure I'll talk to you more between now and the end of the year. So thank you. I appreciate it.
I'm glad to see and hear that you are well.
BRILLIANT: Terrific to see you. Thanks.
QUEST: It is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Very glad you're with us.
Now the international pressure on the Israeli Prime Minister is getting louder. Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to continue the attacks on Gaza
unabated even as President Biden calls for a significant de-escalation.
In a moment.
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. More QUEST MEANS BUSINESS of course, as we continue tonight.
Two of the world's great cities are relaxing COVID restrictions. We'll show you that change. Our life has changed in Paris and here in New York.
The chief executive of JetBlue on tonight's program, hopefully telling us why he is launching JetBlue's first transatlantic route now.
That will be all told in a moment or two after the news headlines because this is CNN, and here, the facts and the news always come first.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are set to meet shortly in Iceland. It is happening on the sidelines
of an Arctic Council gathering where Blinken has been reiterating U.S. opposition to Russia's controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has surveyed the damage caused by the deadly tropical cyclone that hit West India's West Coast earlier this week.
He's promised financial relief for the victims. The (INAUDIBLE) killed his 40 people and dozens of people are still missing.
The African Union has ordered up to 400 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine telling CNN it desperately needs them. It
says it expects extreme delays in the shipments because there was the rich countries of the world are ahead of us in the queue.
Our top story tonight, of course, Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to continue Israeli attacks on Gaza, despite firm pressure to escalate -- deescalate
from President Biden. The global calls for a ceasefire have been more direct. Germany's foreign ministers traveling to Jerusalem and Ramallah on
Thursday where they hold meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials. And Jordan says Egypt and France have agreed to all work together to help
Salma Abdelaziz is in Beirut. Sama. Isn't that a reality here that everybody else can talk and meet and try and put a bit of pressure. But
it's the U.S. president that carries the biggest stick or carrot.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: That's absolutely right, Richard. And it does come down of course to President it Biden but of course down also to
the political will of Prime Minister Netanyahu. So we are hearing that there is significant pressure now on Netanyahu. President Biden having the
fourth call with him this week, in this call, he expressed his desire for a significant deescalation today on the path to a ceasefire.
But let's break that down. Because that terminology is quite vague. What does deescalation mean, and what is that path? And how long will it take?
And what does Prime Minister Netanyahu think? Well, sources say that he made no such pledge for deescalation. And Netanyahu has made it clear over
and over again, that there are specific military objectives that he wants to meet.
Those objectives are to degrade Hamas his capability and essentially make sure they can't fire rockets at Israeli civilians. So the question is, is
Prime Minister Netanyahu simply going to finish the operation and then we call that a ceasefire? That is the question, Richard here. And then you
also have, of course, the Egyptians trying to mediate and speaking to Hamas, they're being backed by the French and the Jordanians.
They're also working through the U.N. Security Council. The French say they're hopeful that they could issue a statement on the conflict through
the U.N. Security Council, although we both know that yet another statement would do very little on the ground. And Richard, everything I'm talking
about here is a band aid. It is temporary, what is the long-term comprehensive plan?
Because I can tell you, for families in Gaza, even if this stops tonight, this will feel like a pause until a few months from now, a few years from
now. Inevitably flares up again, Richard.
QUEST: OK. So I'm really simple. How -- what role can Jordan and Egypt play? Both have tried to put some sort of ceasefire together and both have
ABDELAZIZ: That's a very good question. Egypt is key because it is the body that can speak to Hamas. They were key in negotiating the end of the war in
2014. So, what we're looking at here is Egypt basically being able to say to Hamas, you need to stop firing rockets, we need to come up with
agreement, we need to see a cessation of hostilities right now. But again, that comes down to political will on that side.
And what we don't know about these talks because they are so secretive, is exactly how far this is going. And Egypt says it's looking at a one-year
truce at a comprehensive plan there. But again, the question is, what does that look like? How do you tie Hamas and all of these different actors,
including other actors on the ground? Don't forget, it's not just Hamas inside Gaza, you also have Islamic jihad.
How do you tie them to that deal? And again, these are very secretive meetings, Richard. We don't get to find out a lot about what happens. What
we get at the end of it is an agreement, there's a cessation of hostilities, there's a pause, and everyone holds their breath because what
it means is yet again, that we will see violence in a matter of years or a matter of months, and we will see more lives lost.
QUEST: Salma Abdelaziz in Beirut. thank you. Well, vaccinated New Yorkers take their masks off. Doors open in the louver and elsewhere in Paris. We
are in Paris, the City of Light. And we're in the city that never sleeps.
QUEST: QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: Two of the world's great cities are taking big steps closer to normality today. Here in New York, the mask requirement and social
distancing, the majority of rules are lifted for those who are fully vaccinated. That is New York where most business capacity limits are also
In Paris, restaurants, bars, museums or non-essential shops have reopened for the first time in months. New York and Paris. We want to take you on a
walk in both cities. So, let's begin here in the Big Apple with our Clare Sebastian.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a year ago, it would have been hard to imagine that this day could ever come. And for
those of us who lived through last spring, when the city was one of the global epicenters of the virus still feels like things are moving quite
quickly. As of today, pretty much all capacity restrictions on restaurants like these on retail stores, gyms, hair salons, offices are being lifted.
Really good news for those businesses. The city's subway is now back up and running 24 hours a day. And perhaps the biggest news of all is that New
York State lifting its indoor and outdoor mask mandate for fully vaccinated people in accordance with CDC guidelines. Now that really put the ball in
the court of individual businesses. And I've walked up and down this stretch of Broadway and we're seeing a variety of different policies.
Some like this cafe behind me is still requiring mask. Others like another down the block say they no longer need it. We've spoken to New Yorkers and
found a variety of opinions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't believe that I love it right now because there's still people who haven't been vaccinated yet. And I feel like it's
putting a lot of people still at risk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been vaccinated for about a month, was vaccinated. All of our friends are vaccinated. So we're just waiting for rum, waiting
for everyone just to take their masks off and sort of get back into it again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's time if you've been vaccinated. If you haven't, hopefully, people will do the right thing.
SEBASTIAN: You worry that they weren't?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do think that there are folks that possibly will not.
SEBASTIAN: This isn't about going back to normal. This is about a new normal. All the outdoor dining, for example that we've been seeing as
restaurants have built out onto the sidewalks to try to survive. Well, a lot of that is likely to stay.
SEBASTIAN: And if you look across the road at New York's iconic Lincoln Center, well, it has reimagined itself as an outdoor performance space.
Now, reopening won't be easy. But with 39 percent of New York City now fully vaccinated, it's starting to look like New York Post-COVID is finally
taking shape. Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.
QUEST: With me is good friend, Fred Dixon, the CEO of NYC and Company. The city's official marketing organization. And of course he is in New York.
Fred, so you've got this campaign, 30 odd million-dollar campaign that you can recall. NYC, New York City real weakens. But you can't -- we -- I mean,
I understand domestic tourism is where it's going to be primarily for 2021. Isn't that the case?
FRED DIXON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NYC & COMPANY: Yes, it's great to see you, Richard. And absolutely, you know, we think the real opportunities,
certainly in the coming months are going to be domestically and you're going to see is heavy up on promotion to Americans to come back into New
York City. But we are poised to move into those international markets as those borders open and fingers across the U.K. we'll be hearing from soon.
QUEST: And related to this, the significance of the international tourist, because although you have more domestic, you -- the more money is spent in
a sense, the daily spend is greater from the international. So how are you going to entice internationals back?
DIXON: Yes, you're right. I mean, international travelers stay longer, they spend more, they explore more. So, you know, from the surveys that we're
doing, and the research, we're getting back from the markets, they're ready to return to the U.S. and they're ready to return to New York when it's
We have promotional plans in place with all of our major partners like the airlines, of course, the major tour operators, in market, in our cities
around the world that we've partnered with in the past.
We're all going to be poised to get the international markets, you know, back up on their feet as quickly as possible. And we feel strongly that
that allure that has always brought people to New York, you know, we'll be there in the days as we filled back up.
QUEST: I mean, the shanty towns of restaurants that now exist on just about every street and avenue, I imagine they are here for the rest of the year
and probably beyond. But what do you now need as a city and as a tourist authority, what do you now need from government regulators coordination,
and the like to make it all happen?
DIXON: Well, you know, the open streets program, the cafe culture that New York has for the summer is going to be a huge draw. It's already proving to
be so with Americans. People are coming to experience outdoor dining in New York in a way that we never had before. So, you know, we've been very
fortunate to have great support from government here locally. You know, of course, the vaccine rollout, unfortunately, has been successful here by
We still have some work to do. But we're, you know, we're where we need to be to begin to reopen the market. The promotional support is there from
government, you know, and then the support for small businesses, you know, that's been one of the key pieces throughout all of this, from both the
local and the federal government to make sure that those mom and pop shops and restaurants that make New York what it is, they need to be able to
survive and so far with the federal assistance that's happening
QUEST: And Fred, are you at all concerned that post pandemic, there has been -- there are some stories globally about the safety aspect in New
York. People are concerned as to whether or not the bad old days but certainly whether that is now a concern. What can you tell me on that
DIXON: Yes. I can tell you, you know, just this week, the mayor announced a new surge in police presence on the subway system, which is going to go a
long way towards making people feel safe. You know, New York is still the safest big city in America. And we take that very seriously at every level
of government here in the city. And I think as you see ridership grow on the subways, we're now at about two million riders per day and growing.
And as more people come into the city, you know, last Saturday night, we ran 74 percent occupancy. We were thrilled at that. So, I think as the
vibrancy, you know, builds back more people are in the city. You're going to see all of that begin to balance out more. So, we feel people can return
safely to New York and we're ready for them now.
QUEST: You're talking about 74 percent occupancy. Hotel rates in this city I know -- I know there's not a lot of sympathy on this front, but hotel
rates in this city are going to go through the roof with once the reopening is fully underway and those flights are coming in fall.
DIXON: Yes. I think, you know, it'll be a factor of demand, right? So if we can build the demand back, you know, the economics will, you know, will
kick in after that. But I can tell you there are great rates right now in this summer and you can still find, you know, significant values and coming
to New York. We'll see -- we'll see where that all goes.
QUEST: Right. Fred, before the air is out, we'll talk to you live together somewhere suitable. How about that?
DIXON: I can't wait.
QUEST: Once the reopening is up and running. Fred, it's always good to have you. Fred Dixon, head of NYC & Company. The other major city, global city,
world class city that's opened today Paris, now it's a quarter to 10:00 at night there and a quiet descended on the city because the evening curfew is
now in effect. A side has become familiar during the pandemic. Well, that's a quarter to the late at night.
However, earlier today, in the City of Light, there was a sign of life that we haven't seen for months. A wonderful (INAUDIBLE) of cafes, cinemas,
galleries, opening their doors for the first time. Now take a look. Recognize him? Well, newfound freedom always looks like he's having a demi
A little coffee. President Emmanuel Macron took his morning coffee at a Paris cafe. Meanwhile, Oregon correspondent Melissa Bell, who we've talked
to so many times about the closure and the restrictions, she was in Montmartre.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: A big day here in France after so many months of very tight COVID-19-related restrictions. Cafes are once
again open, terraces preparing to serve food outdoors, once again, museums, cinemas, theaters opening. A sense of life returning to something like
normal. It's been since the end of October that the restrictions have prevented us here in France from doing any of those things.
And that, of course, has had a massive impact on the economy. Europe wide, what we've seen is recession that we're now officially entered into as a
result of those two last quarters of contraction. The hope is now that with his reopenings that should now improve.
You'll notice all around me here in Montmartre actually how quiet it still is because although things are reopening what's really missing and what you
tend to have around these parts of Paris are tourists.
The good news is, that what should happen from the 9th of June is that people from outside the European, Union Americans, Chinese Japanese
tourists, if they have certificates that show that they've been vaccinated, they should once again be able to travel here to enjoy at long lost with
the French, the sights, the sounds, and the flavors of Paris. Melissa Bell, CNN Paris.
QUEST: As we continue tonight, after two years JetBlue has locked down dates for its first transatlantic routes. The CEO Robin Hayes is with me.
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: It's taken two years of planning but now JetBlue has given us a date for it to jump into the transatlantic market. First flight from New York to
London later this summer. The route JFK to London opens on August the 11th. That's going to Heathrow. Then JFK to Gatwick opens in September and
there's London Boston next summer too. The London route will be JetBlue's first foray outside the Americas, the airline is a major foothold in North
and Central America.
It's got this new arrangement to this deal with alliance with American Airlines and others. And it's one of the top U.S. airlines and customer
satisfaction surveys continually. Robin Hayes is with me. He's the chief executive of JetBlue. He joins me from New York via Skype. Well,
congratulations on a date. Interesting, you've gone for August the 11th or mid-August to make this route work.
You have to get the bubble or the transatlantic corridor up and running. How much pressure you're putting on to get that?
ROBIN HAYES, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, JETBLUE (via Skype): Hi, Richard, great to be with you. Yes. We're very, very excited today, all of us at
JetBlue. You're correct. I mean, just really looking at the data, though, you know, looking at what's happening in the U.K., looking at what's
happening in the U.S. with declining COVID case counts, thankfully, you know, both countries doing a really good job with their vaccination
You know, we see it really as extremely likely that between now and August that the, you know, the travel between the two countries is opened up. In
the U.K., you know, we think U.S. can move from amber to green just based on the data. And as we've seen from already, as countries have become green
out of the U.K., how quickly people book on those flights once they become available.
QUEST: I checked your prices, and you're about in mint at the front as opposed to call it the back, even though you're about 50 percent cheaper
than others would be offering on same dates. And I push that out into October, November as well. You're going to -- is it the goal to maintain
such a large price differential?
HAYES: Well, Richard, I mean, you know this industry very well. So when we started flying from JFK to LAX back in 2014 without a main cabin, we reduce
fares significantly. And even now, six, seven years later, you know, fares in business class are about half of what they were before JetBlue started
flying. So yes, I think these changes are enduring. They're permanent. But for us, it's not just about a lower fare.
We're building a product, whether you're flying in mint, or whether you're flying in our core experience that we think is going to be the best across
the Atlantic. So when I take the best experience, the best people and the lowest fare, we think it's a winning combination.
QUEST: Listen to what Ed Bastian of Delta told me last week about new segmentation within the market. And I want to hear your thoughts on whether
how you're going to take advantage. This is what Ed said about premium leisure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED BASTIAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, DELTA AIR LINES: We're just trying to figure how to get people back into travel. This summer, we'll finally be
able to start managing prices and revenue manage the individual discrete buckets. And as well, you'll make room for new segments. Because business
travel this summer is not going to be as strong as it would have been. Leisure travel is going to be much stronger.
And there's going to be another -- a new segment in there of kind of premium leisure, that Delta is going to be very focused on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Your pricing and your structure is designed for premium leisure, right?
HAYES: Well, I mean, our structure is designed on anyone -- for anyone who doesn't want to pay an outrageously high fare. I mean, what legacy airlines
have traditionally done is they've gone into corporate customers, they've negotiated big discounts. And for everybody else if you need to fly in
business class, good luck, you know, you're going to pay thousands and thousands of dollars. So, you know, what we're going to do is we're going
to level the playing field.
We won't have to have everyone have access to this great product and great pricing. And so, yes, JetBlue is predominantly a leisure airline, we've
been doing that for over 20 years. And -- but we think as we bring fares down so significantly, you know, we're going to create demand amongst
business travelers who haven't had access to those fares before, and leisure travelers.
QUEST: This -- the U.S. is going to go gangbusters this year, this summer. You're ramping up, you're bringing all the aircraft back and it's going to
be a very, very good few months. And I'm interested in your -- this alliance with American. First of all, do you expect to start including
Americans flights selling across the Atlantic on that.
QUEST: Which are go takes us into whether you'll then start offering B.A. flights, which eventually will lead somebody to say, are you going to join
the alliance? The J.V.?
HAYES: There's a lot -- there's a lot in that question, Richard. Look, yes, we're very excited about our partnership with American here in the
northeast. And one of the biggest challenges JetBlue has is getting access to some of these congested airports. We've had to fight our way into
LaGuardia, DCA, all of these airports over the years. And what this allows us to do with American is to significantly expand the JetBlue footprint in
airports like LaGuardia and airports like Newark.
That means more flights to more destinations on JetBlue. And what everyone in the northeast knows, that means lower fares too. So yes, it's allowing
us to grow in a way that wasn't possible before.
QUEST: Fairly, I mean, I know you've not even got the first flight going. And I'm already asking when you're going to add frequency. Because the key
to the transatlantic, you know this from your days is frequency. And now you can fill one plane a day with your leisure travelers. But if you want
to be a player, you have to have frequency. Have you got or do you know where you can pick up those extra slots at Heathrow?
HAYES: So, I mean, again, Richard, we get a foot -- our foot in the door which is what we've done both at Heathrow and Gatwick. And we will build
from there. And, you know, we're used to doing that. We've done that before, again, in many that congested airports here in the -- in the -- in
the U.S. And, you know, at the end of the day, our product has -- there is a huge leisure demand between the U.K. and the U.S.
There is a big premium leisure demand between the U.K. and U.S., but not at a $10,000 a time. And so, you know, what we're going to be tapping into is
a whole new segment of travelers who are willing to pay for a premium experience like (INAUDIBLE) but, you know, they want to do that under
$1,000 each way. And that's what we're providing. So look, we don't have to be the airline that has the most frequencies to any destination.
We certainly hopeful and we plan to grow our frequencies to London. But what we're focusing on doing is just delivering our customers a great
experience at a great price. We have 26 airplanes coming over the next few years that will fuel our European operation. So, it will be more than
QUEST: (INAUDIBLE) London Paris. You start ticking them off. Looking forward to being on the inaugural with you, Robin. It is great to have a
new competitor airline. A seasoned airline flying again across the Atlantic. Good to see you, sir. Thank you as always.
HAYES: Thank you, Richard. Take care.
QUEST: It is a special extended edition of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight. After the break, we'll return to the Middle East where it's been a day of
protest airstrikes and we'll look at that at CNN.