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Quest Means Business
E.U. Leaders, Airline Executives Condemn Belarus; Spain Reopens To Tourists From 10 Cities; Kenya Launches Census To Count Every Animal In Its Parks; Bank Of England Governor "Skeptical" About Cryptocurrencies; Eight U.S. States Meet Biden's July 4th Vaccination Goal; Minister: Lithuania Wants Belarus' Airspace To Be Banned. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired May 24, 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: Start a new week together, and it's a strong start to the week. Up like a rocket and never looked back. Up
for the whole session, gain of three quarters of a percent. We'll analyze, we'll talk, and we'll give you some idea as to why.
Those are the markets and the main events of the day.
State-sponsored piracy. That's what E.U. leaders and aviation executives are calling as they condemn Belarus over the forced landing of a Ryanair
Lithuania leads calls for international flights to be banned from Belarusian airspace. The country's Transport Minister on this program
And why a week of wild swings for Bitcoin shows no signs of easing Chinese crackdown roils crypto currencies. We'll talk about that.
We start a new week as I say and the week is Monday, it is May the 24th. Delighted you're on board.
I am Richard Quest, and yes, I mean business.
Good evening. Tonight, there is unity between airlines and governments as they are condemning Belarus for diverting a commercial flight. Words such
as "hijacking" and "state-sponsored piracy" are being used.
E.U. leaders are now discussing what sanctions should be introduced against Belarusian politicians for diverting the Ryanair plane and then arresting a
dissident journalist on board.
The move in the words of the White House was a brazen affront to international peace and security, and why? The journalist Roman Protasevich
was traveling from Athens to Greece -- from Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania, and flight 4979 was forced to land in Minsk, the capital of
Now just look at this -- look at this chart before we go any further though, because I want you to see how close the plane was actually to
Vilnius before it was diverted. There you are, it was quicker to go on to Vilnius if there was this bomb threat or security threat than making this
massive detour into the center of Belarus.
Fred Pleitgen is following the story from Berlin. Let us scotch this bit of nonsense that there was a bomb threat as the Belarusian authorities say,
the pilot wasn't ordered to land, but there was a MiG plane sent up for their safety. Let us put an end to this nonsense.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it's certainly very much seems like nonsense. Ryanair is now calling it an
act of state-sponsored piracy, a state-sponsored hijacking. And I think one of the things that really drives that point home is that the Belarusian
authorities today read a statement claiming that Hamas had called in a bomb threat, and Hamas itself actually today said that that is absolutely not
true. They have no knowledge of any sort of bomb threat against the commercial airliner.
So certainly, the European Union, Richard, is saying that they don't believe any of this. The German Foreign Minister just came out saying that
Angela Merkel just said that ahead of that E.U. meeting where there could be new sanctions decided against the Belarusian government. So there
certainly doesn't seem to be a lot of credibility allocated to that claim, but certainly a remarkable span of events that took place here since late
last night. Let's listen -- let's look at what happened.
PLEITGEN (voice over): Scenes from Minsk Airport after the Ryanair plane was forced to make an emergency landing in the Belarusian capital. The
airline now saying a bomb threat called in by Belarusian authorities appears to have been a ploy in order to arrest journalist and activist,
Roman Protasevich who was on the flight.
MONIKA SIMKIENE, LITHUANIAN PASSENGER (through translator): He said nothing. He just turned to people and said he was facing the death penalty.
PLEITGEN (voice over): The death penalty because Roman Protasevich is on the Lukashenko regime's terrorism list. The social media platform Nexta,
which he cofounded uncovered widespread brutality on the part of Belarusian police and helped organize the massive anti-government protests in the
summer of last year that threatened to unseat longtime dictator Alexander Lukashenko after the opposition and many countries around the world accused
him of rigging the presidential election.
PLEITGEN (voice over): Speaking to CNN, an adviser to Belarus's opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya voiced concern as to how Roman Protasevich
will be treated by the regime.
FRANAK VIACORKA, SENIOR ADVISER TO SVETLANA TIKHANOVSKAYA: He is probably in KGB right now at the interrogation -- interrogation usually takes
several days, and you know that in Belarus, when they interrogate they might use torture and other means.
PLEITGEN (voice over): The Ryanair flight originated in the Greek capital, Athens and was supposed to fly straight to Vilnius in Lithuania. But it
changed course shortly before it would have left Belarusian airspace and made a sharp turn towards the Belarusian capital.
Belarus confirmed it sent a fighter jet to intercept the civilian airliner and escort it to Minsk, and while Belarus's Foreign Ministry said the
country acted in accordance with international rules, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary was blunt.
MICHAEL O'LEARY, CEO, RYANAIR (via phone): This was a case of state- sponsored -- this was a state-sponsored hijacking, a state-sponsored piracy.
PLEITGEN (voice over): The Biden administration is condemning the incident.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are outraged as the international community has expressed and we have expressed as well, and we
think this was a brazen affront to international peace and security by the regime.
PLEITGEN (voice over): Lithuania's President, meanwhile, is calling for tough action by the E.U. against the Lukashenko regime.
GITANAS NAUSEDA, LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We demand the release of Roman Protasevich. If that is not done, we shall talk about the
very serious sanctions at the E.U.'s disposal.
PLEITGEN (voice over): After several hours in Minsk, the plane finally continued its journey to Lithuania without Roman Protasevich and his
girlfriend who was also taken into custody, leaving European leaders fuming and vowing to take action.
QUEST: Not so much of how much more hot air and hyperbole and strong adjectives leaders can use, it's about what they're going to do.
PLEITGEN: Yes, Richard, I think you're absolutely right, and one of the interesting things that we've seen today is that a lot of these leaders,
especially on the E.U. level, but then also a lot of the government's within the E.U., they've been quite specific about things that they want to
do, and I think it really centers around three pillars.
On the one hand, obviously, they're calling for the release of Roman Protasevich. They are calling for an investigation into all this, but
they're also talking about sanctions against the Lukashenko regime, and possibly those involved in making this plane land.
And then possibly also not allowing E.U. aircraft to fly over Belarusian airspace, but then also not for instance, letting the Belarusian flagship
carrier, Belavia fly into E.U. airspace anymore and of course, all that could have major ramifications for air travel in Europe, especially going
from west to east and east to west.
There's already been several airlines in several countries that have said they don't want their airlines to fly over Belarus anymore. The U.K. being
one, Sweden being one, just reading right now that Lufthansa apparently also not flying over Belarus at this point in time.
QUEST: Thank you, Fred Pleitgen in Germany.
Now, the U.N. body, ICAO that coordinate civil aviation says its Council will hold an urgent meeting. At the same time, a raft of airline executives
have criticized Belarus as you heard Michael O'Leary, whose flight was diverted, called it state-sponsored piracy. The Latvian Carrier, airBaltic,
SAS-Scandinavians have said they won't over fly and the U.K. has advised its airlines to do the same.
Here's how -- I want to show you. Look how Belarus airspace looked on Friday of last week, according to Flightradar24. Now they've got Belarus
right in the middle.
So you can see how it is a north-south-east-west crossing point as you're going through particularly Berlin to Moscow type of traffic. Now in
comparison, look at what it looked like today. As you can see, you can still see some -- obviously, some traffic which comes from the national
carrier still moving across the country. But there's a lot more traffic going round than going through.
Willie Walsh is the Director of I.A.T.A, you're familiar with, and former head of British Airways and Aer Lingus and he says he can't remember a
similar incident in his career.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIE WALSH, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION: It would be extremely difficult for any airline CEO to be put in this position. I
think what we need is to properly understand what happens, the information that's available to us certainly suggests that this was an unlawful act
taken to interfere with the proper operation of a civil passenger aircraft through the airspace of Belarus.
It is important that we understand what happened -- exactly what happened, the sequence of events. But all of the information so far does point to an
unlawful interference with that aircraft.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: In just a moment, the Lithuanian Transport Minister will be with me to tell us to discuss exactly what measures they want from that country.
First, Anna Stewart in London on this airline response.
We've heard from individual airlines, but essentially, they can really only do one of two. Things they can avoid flying over Belarus which -- over
Belarus, which will cost them fuel and they can refuse to land or whatever if they do have service to Belarus.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Exactly that, Richard. And actually it has taken airlines quite a while to actually say what their response is on
this. This morning, looking at Flightradar, it did look pretty empty over Belarus airspace, really just Russian airlines, and Belavia, the national
carrier flying over there, but in the last few hours, many airlines have come out and said individually they are avoiding the airspace. That list is
Lufthansa just announced they are avoiding airspace, also Scandinavian and Baltic Air, LOT was there. All U.K. air -- and this one is interesting.
This was -- we've had similar responses actually also from Sweden and the U.K. government, Richard, aren't just (AUDIO DIFFICULTY) telling airlines
from the U.K. not to cross Belarus airspace, they are also actually --
QUEST: All right, Anna, we are having difficulty hearing you. I'm afraid we have a problem with your connection, but we got the gist of what you're
And so to Lithuania where the flight was bound before it was intercepted, now apparently wants Belarusian airspace to be close to all international
flights. Lithuania is Belarus's neighbor and the public broadcaster there report the government has called it an active state terrorism, which made
the airspace unsafe for everyone.
Marius Skuodis is the Lithuanian Minister of Transport and Communication and joins me via Skype from Vilnius.
Good evening, Minister. Let's put this bluntly. Avoiding airspace goes so far, but that really penalizes airlines who have to fly further and at
greater cost of fuel. What is it that you think will make the Belarusian authorities realize what a dreadful thing they did?
MARIUS SKUODIS, LITHUANIAN MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION: Look, our purpose is very, very clear. The safety of our citizens and passengers
traveling to and from Lithuania is our primary and absolute priority, and if it takes a little more time and cost for airlines to arrive to Lithuania
or you know to divert flights, somehow it is the cost we need to pay for the safety. Safety is our priority.
QUEST: Yes, but safety might be your priority, Minister, but actions on the back of the Belarusian actions have to be taken. And, you know, I can hear
people say well, it must be a proportionate response. Don't you think this calls for a disproportionate response, so the message is rammed home?
SKUODIS: I don't think so, because yesterday's event showed that no one in the Belarusian airspace is safe. Basically what happened yesterday, the
plane, which took an international route was forcefully grounded, the first thing. Secondly, hostages, people were held hostage -- families, kids, they
didn't know what happened. And the same with Belarus journalist -- dissident journalist because not all the passengers continued with their
flight, and we still don't know what has happened with them.
QUEST: So what for you is a correct response to Belarus for doing this?
SKUODIS: So our government approved a very concrete and comprehensive package of measures, and only one of them is to ban the use of the
Belarusian airspace for international flights. This is only one measure. We took it on the national level. But of course we expect that other countries
And the British announced similar measures and I am sure that after the European Council meetings, there will be certain decision by other member
QUEST: And if that doesn't work?
SKUODIS: It will work. How Lithuania works, basically, we don't allow any flights to land or to depart from Lithuanian airports if they've crossed
the Belarusian airspace. Basically, flights are not allowed to operate. This is how the aviation industry works.
QUEST: No, I get the -- I get the -- I understand that, bit. What I'm trying to say is, is that hard enough? I mean sanctions against leaders
that are already sanctioned for their behavior during last year's outrageous election.
You've got -- all right, so you ban basically over flight of Belarus airspace, but surely, as long as Russia continues to support Belarus as it
has done and did do, then you're going to have to do more and I asked you, Minister, what more should be done?
SKUODIS: Economic sanctions which affect the regime because their regime functions by getting money from state-owned enterprises, which trade with
E.U., for instance, member states. And the same with Russia.
What needs to be done is to take basically quick, timely actions, because without them, similar situations could continue and we cannot allow that.
QUEST: So, let me be skeptical about the ability of the E.U. to come up with a response that basically shocks the Belarusians back to the table or
back to decent behavior. Do you think the E.U. can do it? Or will it be a classic E.U. wishy-washy, heavy on statement, light on action?
SKUODIS: I think at the moment, we have a window of opportunity because this flight is not about Lithuania and Belarus. It is about citizens from
11 countries, 11 nationalities.
This event -- yesterday's event affected basically the majority, the main E.U. member states, and we need to react; otherwise, similar situations
could continue. Next time, there could be another flight, a German one, a British one or from any other country.
QUEST: Minister, I appreciate it. Thank you, sir. Thank you.
SKUODIS: Thank you.
QUEST: I'll take the opportunity before we take a break just to say one or two words on this. We don't have a profitable moment, so I'll do it. Look
at the words -- the sort of words that leaders have been using so far.
The Commission President says those responsible must be sanctioned. Brazen and shocking act, terrorist action, unprecedented act -- are the sort of
words being used. But I leave you with this thought before we go for a break. Really, the only thing that matters is what they actually do.'
This is one of those windows, those moments of opportunity, where if the strongest message is not sent, whatever that might be, that's up to
policymakers and the Belarusians will gain the support of the Russians and they will believe that they have won and we will all be going tut-tut-
tutting off into the future.
In a moment, Spain is preparing to open its doors to vaccinated tourists from any country. We will be in Valencia with the details. It is QUEST
MEANS BUSINESS. Good evening to you.
QUEST: As of today, tourists from 10 countries outside the E.U. can visit Spain without getting tested for COVID. The list of low risk countries
includes obviously Australia, Israel and the U.K.
Spain is preparing on June the 7th to reopen to any tourist anywhere who has been vaccinated, no matter from where.
Spain is the second most visited country in the world before the pandemic and last year's drop was 80 percent, extraordinary high numbers.
Valencia is the country's third largest city and one of the top destinations, a magnificent place, nearly 10 million people visited there
two years ago.
Atika Shubert is -- Spain has been gasping, oh, what a wonderful place to see you. I bet it must be delightful. What could be more beautiful than
being in Valencia on the beach at a time of a reopening? Atika, how are they -- this is a one stage in a long process that eventually culminates on
June 7th. Tell me more.
ATIKA SHUBERT, JOURNALIST: Absolutely. Spain wants to kick start its tourism economy, but it wants to do so safely. And so as of today, their
visitors from a list of very select nations will be able to come here without any restrictions. That means no PCR tests required.
These include the U.K., Israel, New Zealand and what these countries have in common is that they either have high vaccination rates or they have very
low incidences of COVID. Now, the hope is that during the next week or so, Spain will at the same time be able to ramp up its vaccination rates and
this will better prepare the country for the next round of tourists coming in. Hopefully, from U.S. and China. That's the plan, by June 7th, they'll
be able to expand it out.
But those from the U.S. and China and other countries, they will still need to be vaccinated to come visit Spain. They'll still need to have a negative
PCR test. So, this is all part of that effort. And it's incredibly important for the country, 12 percent of the country's GDP relies on
tourism. British tourism in particular, really drives the tourism industry here -- Richard.
QUEST: So that's crucial, and arguably, they've been in a difficult position because for example, Portugal is already on the U.K.'s green list,
but the -- and I suspect next France will want to know how quickly and how it is going to reopen.
From what we know, what sort of response has there being to not only today, but also to the reopening? Have people been booking?
SHUBERT: Well, I think what we're seeing -- you know, it's interesting, I was on the beach all day today and there were still a lot of tourists here
even with having to get PCR tests and so forth. I think what's happening is here that people want to come to Spain, but they just want assurances that
when they get here, they'll be safe that Spain -- that Spaniards will be safe as well.
So yes, there are people who are very keen to book especially in places like Ibiza and Mallorca, the Balearics has a very low incidence of COVID
right now and their vaccination rates are very high. They've seen scores of bookings, people definitely want to go there.
But at the same time, they want to know that if they're going to go to a holiday here, what's it going to be like? Are they going to have to wear
masks everywhere? Are any of the famous clubs in Ibiza going to be open? And the reality is, COVID regulations are still enforced.
You don't have to wear these while you're sunbathing or taking a walk on the beach, but you will have to wear them on the boardwalk. And there was
no partying until the early hours here, certainly in Valencia, there's a curfew from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. That might change as the vaccination
rates go up here, but it's still very slow opening -- Richard.
QUEST: Thank you, Atika, and you see on the beach in Valencia. Thank you.
Now in Kenya, where tourism revenues have hit an all-time low, officials there are rethinking how to sustain their wildlife preservation efforts.
Kenya has launched its most ambitious conservation project yet, counting every single animal and marine creature in its 58 national parks for the
first time. That'll keep you busy.
Our Larry Madowo tagged along with the wildlife researchers.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A hippo getting a break from curious eyes now that the pandemic has stopped most tourists from coming
here. He is being tracked along with a thousand other species. Officials watching closely for an irreversible decline in numbers.
It is Kenya's most ambitious conservation efforts.
NAJIB BALALA, KENYAN TOURISM MINISTER: We didn't get the tourists to help us to contribute to conservation. We lost a lot of livelihoods because
there is no tourism. The parks are closed and we could not help the communities around this area.
MADOWO (on camera): So Kenya lost 80 percent of your tourism revenue because of the pandemic?
MADOWO: How long will it take to recover?
BALALA: The projection is until 2024. So we need to rethink and remodel our way of doing things so that we can survive until tourism rebalances.
MADOWO (voice over): To do that, they're using aircraft, GPS trackers, camera traps, and a whole lot of manpower to know exactly how many are
STEPHEN NDAMBUKI, WILDLIFE RESEARCH SCIENTIST: I fell that I'm really empowered and I feel that -- I feel that yes, I'm contributing to the
conservation and getting out data that can be used to inform decision on conservation matters.
MADOWO (voice over): Five hours a day, seven days a week, researchers are in the air combing through every inch of the country's rolling landscapes.
MADOWO (on camera): We are just kilometers away from the Kenya-Tanzania border. We're about 350 feet above ground. This is a good patrol height
they say to be able to count, observe and record any animals that they see.
MADOWO (voice over): The Census will track the consequences of climate change, poaching, and human wildlife conflict.
Back on the ground, there's a growing power struggle with the Maasai people who gave up land for some of Kenya's most famous parks. Their livelihoods
depend on their cows.
MADOWO (on camera): But during COVID-19 when tourism completely dropped, the income for the villages has disappeared --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has disappeared. Sure.
MADOWO: And what are people doing now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They used to be make some bracelets, necklaces but no income. For example, our women have a small need, we have to sell one cow
and buy for them the food.
MADOWO (voice over): The team here suspects erratic weather is affecting animal routines.
DR. PATRICK OMONDI, DIRECTOR OF BIODIVERSITY, KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE: We have seen wildlife going into places they have not been in 50 years. We
have seen a lot of changes resulting from mainly climate change. Like for example within the Amboseli, we never used to have permanent lakes and it's
something that we are investigating as scientists, but it's also now less than the habitat available for herbivores.
MADOWO (on camera): This wildlife census will cover all of Kenya's 58 national parks and reserves on land and on water.
The results will provide the largest ever source of data for Kenya's conservation and tourism.
MADOWO (voice over): The government says it will help protect the millions who depend on this for their survival.
Larry Madowo, CNN, Amboseli Park.
QUEST: Now, Bitcoin is back at it, China is expanding its crackdown on Bitcoin mining as the cryptocurrency roller coaster continues, which of
course, blows a hole through the idea that crypto is a currency or a commodity, or even something a store of value.
QUEST: Governor of the Bank of England has described cryptocurrencies as dangerous. Andy Harding said that it's easy to get carried away with
financial innovation. And he is skeptical. And you can see why. Another roller coaster day for Bitcoin. It was up again, though still far behind in
all-time high, but up 11 percent more than $38,000. So put this together.
It's been an up and down week, over the last week, while it's facing new regulations. Now, just look at the difference of the Bitcoin wild ride over
the two things. There you have -- let's go between the two again. You have the price of the of Bitcoin, which was up and down by 10 or 11 percent a
day, and then you have -- that's -- here's Bitcoin's, up 14, 10, 8.3 (INAUDIBLE) and seven. And now look at the Euro. And you see completely
That's how the Euro versus the Dollar over the last five days. And so, you have to pretend that Bitcoin is somehow a currency. One Goldman Sachs
analyst says Bitcoin isn't acting like digital gold. His report says in part, it's tended to be more aligned with risk on assets. But clients are
beyond largely treating it as a new asset class which is notable. It's not often that we get to witness the emergence of a new asset class.
Claire Sebastian is in New York. Difference between asset class and a currency class, Sebastian.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Richard. I think what Bitcoin is, and what it's useful for is really still being worked out
even over this year where we've seen the value go up beyond 60,000. And now back down again. And look, it's clear that there's a drumbeat of sort of
regulatory skepticism. And part of that is rooted in the sort of more widespread adoption of this among sort of Wall Street firms and big names.
And we've seen this in the Bank of England comments today. Andrew Bailey saying that he's skeptical that he feels that crypto assets are dangerous.
We also had from the Chinese as well over the weekend, the very powerful Vice Premier Liu He saying that he's clamping down on mining and trading.
This is really the first time we've heard them talk about mining. And that really is a big deal because between two-thirds and three-quarters of all
mining for Bitcoin takes place in China.
And we also have Lael Brainard of the Fed today coming out and say that there could be consumer protection and financial stability risks, if what
she calls private monies become more widespread. So, a lot of comments from various regulatory parties today, Richard.
QUEST: Yes. But does it make a difference? OK. So you can, you know, I can hear the argument. In fact, I could imagine Julia Chatterley would make the
argument that once it's -- once this genie is out of the bottle, you can sort of try and squeeze it back in and you can put it in a core set, if you
will, but you can't really get rid of it if that's where people want to go.
SEBASTIAN: I think that's absolutely true, Richard. And I think you see that in the more adoption that we're seeing in it. We've got Goldman Sachs
saying that they're going to start offering it to their wealthiest clients. Morgan Stanley doing the same. Ray Dalio, the big hedge fund investor came
out today and said he owns Bitcoin. And in the same breath with these central banks as they talk about the risks of this, they are of course as
well looking into their own digital currencies.
Lael Brainard of the -- of the Federal Reserve, today was talking about how the Fed is really stepping up its research into a CBDC, a central bank,
digital currency. Something that they're going to be publishing a paper on over the summer.
And so let's see public comment, the Eurozone, the ECB is doing the same. We've got China, with the E.U. are -- they all doing it and the Fed in
particular says they need to be at the table if there's going to be cross border applications for this because of the dominance of the dollar. So
they really can't avoid it now. They really happy to be part of it.
QUEST: Clare Sebastian, thank you in the United Kingdom. 72 percent of the population have had their first vaccine shot, more than 30 percent have
been fully vaccinated.
QUEST: And in the United States, now more than half have been fully vaccinated in terms of the population. 130 million Americans across eight
states have already met President Biden's goal of 70 percent of adult residents by the 4th of July. Because of such progress being made, there is
a vast relaxation of standards on social distancing right across the board. I don't have to wear a mask when I'm out and about maybe and you do.
And you had to undertake a shoot in Spain was saying. So now employers are moving up the date when they want to get employees back in the office. The
Boston Consulting Group, Chief Executive Rich Lesser is with me. You met your top team and frankly, I'm not being -- I'm not -- I'm not giving away
secrets, you know, you are surprised you can bring people back quicker than you had previously thought. And if I'm not mistaken, you might even be in
the office now.
RICH LESSER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP: I am in the office now. And it's actually very nice to be here. It's great to be with
you, Richard. Hope to be in your studio sometime soon as well. You're not so far away from me. Yes, I think, look, it was a very encouraging
announcement of, I guess, 10 days, 12 days to go now. It was a bit challenging, from a process point of view.
No warning, not a lot of support on exactly how to implement the change. But the belief that the vaccines are safe and effective, and enable us to
return to a more normal life more quickly, I think was warranted by the data. And I think businesses are responding to it.
QUEST: So here on the media, we're doing this idea of -- particularly at CNN have come -- we come back on a voluntary basis in June while we work
out the modalities of requiring people to come back on September and read some hybrid working. How realistic -- I mean for you, are you going to let
people have a hybrid work environment?
LESSERP: So, we have a couple big changes we're looking to make over time. We want people to start being back in July. This is in the U.S. Of course,
every country is at a different place right now. We want people to start being back in July in a hybrid sort of model. We want to learn what works
and what doesn't for different parts of our team in different parts of our business. And then in September, as we get back to what is a more normal
operation, I don't think it'll be normal of 2019.
It will be a new reality. And I believe hybrid will be a bigger part of that mix for the vast majority of our employees. And I also think will be a
different travel footprint with our clients, which is also very important in our work from a carbon point of view, as well as a work point of view.
QUEST: My guess is, let's take these at a fair clip because it wouldn't cover some ground. And my guess is the internal travel. I mean, you're just
going to clamp down on that drastically, maybe 30, 40 percent less internal travel within BCG.
LESSER: So we committed last September and our net zero commitment to be 30 percent less travel emissions per person. And that applied to both internal
and client. I agree with you in some ways, the internal part will be easier, we see how well we've been able to operate BCG through a pandemic
with zero travel. So we're very confident we want to bring some of that travel back, it will be at a lower level. With clients it'll take more time
to work through.
QUEST: I was talking to Richard Edelman, who you will know from the Adelman Group, who you will know well. And we were both -- we're talking about his
trust barometer. How important is it for you at BCG?
How important is it that you keep the promise that you made during the pandemic, that you are open to new ways of working? I suggest that too many
companies, too quickly will shut the door on that opportunity.
LESSER: I think it's incredibly important for us as a firm. And I think for the business community more generally, we've just run the greatest worst
experiment in the business world, an awful experiment at the human level with health that we wish hadn't happened. But we've learned an enormous
amount to not take that learning and use it to evolve how we do our work. I think it would be just a big missed opportunity.
And for many of our employees, particularly, I would say people who have caregiver responsibilities disproportionately women, they're expecting us
to learn from this and evolve and not just go back to an old reality.
QUEST: Easy said, difficult to do.
LESSER: Sure. You have to keep learning, you have to keep learning
QUEST: Finally, what's the one thing you've learned? I mean, you're back in the office. Well, I think we've seen you in some very, you know, in your
home and what's one thing you've learned over the whole thing briefly?
LESSER: Honestly, I thought that what BCG does changes continuously. Over every year, we bring new capabilities for clients, but how we do it needed
to stay relatively static. And I think as it relates to the business world, the biggest learning of this is, one, the pace of change got faster, not
slower, which most people thought it would slow down but it sped up.
LESSER: And second, that the ways that we work can evolve substantially in ways that are win-win wins. Wins for our people, wins for our customers, in
our case, our clients and wins for the world more generally, including the climate. And that's exciting, doesn't make it -- it's challenging. We have
a lot to learn. But that's an exciting change.
QUEST: Richard, we'll talk more. Thank you very much for joining us. Always a pleasure and a treat --
LESSER: Great to be with you.
QUEST: And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for the moment, I'll be back at the top of the hour. We're going to make a dash for the closing bell. Lots of
green to dash towards. Coming up next, Living Golf.
QUEST: I'm Richard Quest. We have a dash to the closing bell. And we're only two minutes away from it ringing. Two minutes to the close. The Dow is
gaining 200 points, give or take. And that's still about 70 points off the best of the day. But a strong performance. Tax helping stock climb higher.
The NASDAQ is having a rural session. It's up nearly 1-1/2 percent more than the other two of the Dow and the S&P 500.
Lufthansa German Airlines has suspended overflight operations over Belarusian airspace. After the Belarusian authorities diverted a passenger
plane to arrest a journalist. On QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, Lithuanian Transport Minister Marius Skuodis told me he wants a complete Belarus airspace ban
for international flights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIUS SKUODIS, LITHUANIAN TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER: No one in the middle of Russian airspace is safe. Basically what happened yesterday,
the plane which took an international route was forcefully grounded, the first thing. Secondly, hostages -- people were held hostage. Families,
small kids, they didn't know what happened. And the same with Belarus journal -- dissident journalists.
And because not all the passengers continued with their flight. And we still don't know what has happened with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: E.U. ministers are meeting to decide on a coordinated response. The Dow 30 shows exactly where the business and the action was. Microsoft best
of the day, Amgen and Home Depot at the other end, the gainers outweighed the losers. That's the way the markets look at the end of the first day of
the trading week, a strong session. And that's the dash to the bell. I'm Richard Quest in New York.
Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. The closing bell starts ringing on Wall Street.
QUEST: The trading day is over. Jake Tapper starts next.