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Quest Means Business
Lufthansa CEO Says Trust Was Broken By Belarus; Six U.N. Security Council Members Demand Belarus Release Dissident; At Least Eight Killed, Suspect Dead In San Jose Shooting; Lufthansa CEO: "Positive" Transatlantic Bubble To Open Soon; Dream Hotel Group Reopens Downtown Manhattan Location. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired May 26, 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: An hour to the closing bell, and we're just about holding on, or at least the Dow Jones is just about
holding onto 30,000 -- 34,000 barely. You can see the sort of day. There were good gains over the morning and lunchtime and have evaporated, and a
little bit of a few losses coming in. Again, it is a wait-and-see sort of market.
But this is the way the day looks so far, this is what's happened: The CEO of Lufthansa tells me trust was broken when Belarus forced a passenger
flight in its airspace to land.
Amazon puts a Hollywood icon in its shopping cart, snapping up MGM for more than $8 billion.
And from gas to coin -- to corn, I should say, inflation is causing prices to shoot up and threatening the post-pandemic recovery.
Live from New York, I'm Richard Quest, it is Wednesday, and it's the 26th of May, as you can see, and I mean business.
Good evening. We start tonight with the head of Europe's largest airline who says Belarus broke the trust of carriers and passengers by coercing a
flight, the Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius to land in Minsk.
Lufthansa's chief executive, Carsten Spohr says passenger safety must never be taken for granted. His airlines stopped flying to Minsk or indeed over
Belarusian air space until at least June the 3rd. And he told me the diversion of the Ryanair flight has rocked the aviation industry to its
Spohr says the repercussions are not over yet.
He joined me for an exclusive interview. Carsten Spohr was in the hanger at Munich, that's an A350 that you'll see behind him, and asked him how long
Lufthansa intends to avoid Belarusian airspace.
CARSTEN SPOHR, CEO, LUFTHANSA GROUP: Well, officially, we at least decided to do that until the end of next week, and we are reassessing the situation
with the authorities. But I think it's important that such an incident which goes to the core of what this industry is all about, which is the
safety and security of our passengers, our crews, our airplanes is not without consequences.
So I think it was right what the international community decided in regards to Belarus, and I think there is no doubt in our mind that we follow the
recommendation to avoid the airspace and flying into the country for right now.
QUEST: For those of us who have covered the industry and I suppose, people like yourself in the industry, it's difficult to overstate the horror of
what happened, isn't it?
SPOHR: Yes. I think, when passengers board our airplanes, they trust us, and us in this case is the whole industry, the whole system, that they are
safe and that of course overflying a country where there might be an issue is never anything to be doubtful about.
And that this trust, in a way, was broken. Indeed, it is an issue for our industry. That's why the industry is fully aligned in supporting the
international community in its reactions, absolutely. Absolutely.
QUEST: Are you satisfied with the response so far?
SPOHR: Well, I don't know all the details. I don't know much more than what's in the papers. But I think this is not over yet. I think the
investigations are going on, discussions are going on, especially also on the transatlantic in this regard.
So, I have full confidence that the decision making are taking into account how serious this incident was and that's why we are no doubt again to
follow those recommendations.
QUEST: One final question on this area. We look at the last couple of weeks. I mean, not Belarus, then there was Israel, short period, I'll grant
you. There is Ukraine in an overflight. I mean, it is getting -- this really proves the difficulty of aviation when aviation meets geopolitics.
SPOHR: Well, even ways and years before COVID, I have always tried to remind us in the industry that operating airplanes is not a commodity. That
was always opposing tickets for ten euros or $10.00 because it just gives the impression that what we do is a commodity. It never has been.
SPOHR: There's a huge learning curve to come to the safety and security levels where we are, to come to the level of punctuality, reliability. So
these incidences indeed remind us that what we do is not something which can be taken for granted, but something we work hard on every day to make
it as safe and reliable as it is, absolutely.
QUEST: Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa Group. And later in the hour, you can hear more of the exclusive interview.
Carsten says every time COVID restrictions are loosened, the bookings just jump.
As airlines steer clear of Belarus and the E.U. ramps up pressure against it, its embattled President -- Belarusian embattled President, Alexander
Lukashenko has pushed back. He says the plane's landing was legal, and then went on to accuse enemies at home and abroad of what he calls hybrid
warfare against the state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): As we predicted, our ill-wishers both outside and inside the country have changed
their methods of attacking the Belarusian state. They have crossed a lot of red lines and transgressed the limits of commonsense and common morality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin. If it wasn't so serious, Fred, I mean, listening to President Lukashenko, to say hutzpah to say red lines have
been crossed, I mean, beggar's belief, what is he talking about when he says hybrid attack?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think what he is trying to say is that he believes that all this is a campaign by both
Western nations and the opposition inside Belarus against himself, against what he sees as the stability of that state.
He also by the way widened that out and said that he also thinks that Belarus is just a testing ground, that Russia could then be next.
Obviously, Richard, the European Union and the United States isn't buying any of that. And I was just listening very, very carefully to your
interview with Carsten Spohr of Lufthansa, and I think that some of the things that he said there are so very relevant for some of the things that
we have seen, that we have heard today also from Alexander Lukashenko.
You talk about the fact that of course in aviation, planes are vulnerable when they fly over countries, and it really seemed as though today I was
listening to the speech that Lukashenko gave that he was almost making a mockery of that.
He said the bomb threat, the alleged bomb threat that led to them launching a fighter jet came from Switzerland. Switzerland said it had no idea about
that and has no indication that that actually happened.
He also said that several airports around that area including Warsaw and Poland, Vilnius in Lithuania refused to allow that plane to land. And at
least the Polish said that's absolutely not true either. They had no indication that a plane wanted to make an emergency landing.
So you see a lot of things there that are really very dangerous in international aviation. If we look at right now, the situation in the skies
above Belarus, we're monitoring that throughout the entire day. There's not many western carriers that are flying over Belarus, certainly not many
There was for instance also one Belavia jet, which is of course the flagship carrier of Belarus that did circles inside Belarus for two hours
and then had to return. So, we can already see that there are grave consequences, and there certainly seems more of that to come from the
European Union, with the E.U. already saying that sanctions could very well be brought -- Richard.
QUEST: Fred Pleitgen, Fred, thank you.
Now, the U.N. Security Council, the U.S., U.K., and four European nations called Sunday's diversion an unprecedented and unacceptable act and calling
on Belarus to release the dissident journalist removed from the flight.
Their statement followed a closed-door Security Council meeting. Anais Marin is the U.N. Special Rapporteur on this situation of human rights in
Belarus. She joins me from Warsaw in Poland.
And I appreciate that because of your unique position, you can't specifically talk about, of course, what happened because that's what
you're reporting about, that's what you're looking into. But on the question of the human rights of the dissident who was removed, I mean, this
is a cause of great, I would say, grave concern now. Note with what you know about human rights in Belarus, tell me more.
ANAIS MARIN, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, BELARUS: Well first, I'm concerned about the safety of this individual
because we have a lot of evidence that torture and ill-treatment is systematic in Belarusian detention centers, and it's a practice that is
being used in spite of being totally forbidden by international law to extract confessions or self-accusations from detainees.
And we have good reasons to believe that both Roman Protasevich and his partner, Sofia were -- had to experience such ill-treatment based on the
videos that have been disseminated by the Belarusian authorities.
QUEST: Now, the problem is that you're not telling the rest of the world or at least the European world anything they don't already know. And bearing
in mind Lukashenko's brazenness even today in his speech, what purpose does an investigation like yours serve other than to tell us what we already
MARIN: Well, the report that I am writing in the framework of the mandate given to me by the Human Rights Council are sort of authoritative for
international organizations, for diplomats. And it gives a voice also to human rights defenders and civil society organizations who are involved in
the drafting of these reports because most of the data I use is the one that they communicate to me.
Why? Because the government of Belarus, unfortunately, has decided to ignore my mandate, not to recognize it, and it doesn't cooperate with me.
This is very unfortunate because the special procedures mandate holders of the Human Rights Council have a major duty to communicate recommendations
to governments so that they can improve the way they protect human rights and prevent violations.
Here we are facing a country that -- well, a government that obviously doesn't want to cooperate.
MARIN: But, I still have to try.
QUEST: And that must be done. That must be done because, of course, because there must be the correct documentation of such abuses. But I wonder if the
cautionary tale isn't this, that we need not to be blind to the fact that the Lukashenkos of this world backed up by President Putin, it would seem
in this case, are playing by one set of rules, while we are playing by a second set of rules and hoping and wishing they would play by them as well,
but they're not.
MARIN: I understand your point. The thing is that, indeed in the United Nations system, unfortunately, democracies and countries which are prone to
defend human rights are a minority, and therefore the U.N. system is well, a representation of this world as it is.
However, most of these countries that regularly systemically abuse -- commit human rights abuse have signed and ratified the conventions, the
international conventions that actually ban torture, that actually guarantee freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly.
And for some reason, just in the same way as Mr. Lukashenko regularly holds manipulated elections, he also pretends to be cooperating with U.N. Human
Rights mechanisms and to respect conventions that Belarus has voluntarily signed and that with all the evidence we have, it doesn't respect.
QUEST: We are grateful you've joined us this evening. Thank you. When there is more, we will talk more. Thank you, Ma'am, for joining us on QUEST MEANS
MARIN: Thank you.
QUEST: Jeff Bezos has gone shopping and Hollywood may never be the same. It's the future of the studio industry, after the break. QUEST MEANS
QUEST: Authorities say they've identified the suspect in this morning's mass shooting at a rail yard in San Jose. He was an employee of the VTA,
the Valley Transportation Authority according to the County Sheriff's Office.
The gunman killed at least eight people and is also dead. The mayor has called it a tragic day for the city and for the public transit agency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR SAM LICCARDO, SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA: This is a horrific day for our city, and it's a tragic day for the VTA family. And our heart pains for the
families and the co-workers because we know that so many are feeling deeply this loss of their loved ones and their friends.
Now is a moment for us to collect ourselves, to understand what happened, to mourn and to help those who have suffered to heal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Jeff Bezos has announced he will formally step down as Amazon's CEO, we now have a date, it is July the 5th. And before he goes, he is making
one last big purchase. Amazon announced it is buying MGM Studio for nearly $8.5 billion, with a B -- dollars. The deal gives Amazon Prime subscribers
access to MGM's vast catalogue of movies and TV shows.
Amazon's shares are just up a fraction or something, maybe because of the nature of the company, a relatively small sized, this deal, will be.
However, for the film industry, the movies, Hollywood, it is increasingly feeling as though the big screen has become small fry when it comes to
acquisitions by major companies.
It's all a far cry from Hollywood's Golden Age. Then, those handful of studios were blockbuster brands in their own right.
[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]
QUEST: 20th Century Fox, home to everything from the "Call of the Wild" to "Cleopatra" was bought by Murdoch, sold to Disney just two years ago with
great production. Universal gave us classics like Olivier's "Hamlet'" and "The Bride of Frankenstein" bought by Comcast more than a decade ago.
Warner Brothers, our own, the studio behind "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca" now owned by CNN's parent company, AT&T. And like ourselves,
soon to be spun off.
And then there is -- I can't resist it when I see that. Leo the Lion, the "Wizard of Oz," MGM now coming under the canopy of Amazon.
All right, Brian Stelter is here. Brian, I took the opportunity to remember those great, great logos and jingles. But why does Amazon want MGM, other
than as a shopping store of films?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: They say they want the I.P., the intellectual property. They say that that value, the "Bond" franchise,
other franchises within MGM, are going to super charge Amazon Prime Video.
There clearly is a race underway to buy up I.P., to buy up franchises and brands and famous films and TV shows so you can remake them and resell them
and repackage them. That's the logic, according to Amazon.
Lots of others in Hollywood believe that Amazon is overpaying for MGM, given that others were thinking it was worth $5 billion or $6 billion.
Amazon is saying closer to $9 billion. And some of this, I think is just about Jeff Bezos wanting that Hollywood sheen, wanting to own a piece of
Hollywood history, and now, Amazon does.
QUEST: But Amazon spent a bunch of money on Amazon Prime and the movies and the originals. And some of them are very, very good. But they haven't got
the return that you would expect with the amount of money they spent.
STELTER: Well, I think it's so opaque, right? We don't know how many people watch Amazon's film and TV shows. We don't know how much it contributes to
the bottom line of Amazon Prime.
You know, I am the kind of household that has Prime for lots of other reasons like free shipping. I rarely ever watch content on Amazon. But I
guess I'm glad it's there, and maybe someday I'll get around to it.
Does that make Amazon Prime Video more or less valuable? We just don't have a lot of insights because Amazon doesn't provide the data. but now, they
will have even more access to even more content and so the content arms race continues.
QUEST: So, who is still on the block? Who is still potentially -- Sony has already said they're not for sale. Sony has already made it clear that
their movie studio is not for sale. Who else is up for potential --
STELTER: I think now we're going to see the unwinding, we are going to see the rewinding, the re-bundling. So WarnerMedia and Discovery, as you
mentioned, AT&T spinning off WarnerMedia and Warner Brothers merging with Discovery next year. And there's already speculation that maybe that new
asset will then get bought by the likes of Apple or merge with Comcast.
There's lot of speculation about how re-bundling or that kind of consolidation could happen. But I think we're heading to a new golden age
of these studios. It is just that now, they are Netflix, now it's Apple, now it's Amazon. So we don't have that lion roaring anymore. But whenever
you press that Netflix app and that Netflix logo pops up, I think in some ways you're getting that same experience a hundred years later. Do you buy
QUEST: No, I really don't.
QUEST: I don't because there's no Jack Warner or Louis B. Mayer or there is no -- well, I suppose there is. Anyway, this is the story for -- this is a
subject and an argument or a good debate for another day. Thank you, Brian Stelter joining us.
STELTER: Thank you.
Two ExxonMobil directors have been ousted after a battle with an activist investor known as Engine Number One. Now, the move has been held as a
landmark for climate cases, and it comes as a Dutch Court has ordered Shell to cut carbon emissions more aggressively than planned. Shell is appealing.
Speaking to CNN in the past couple of hours, the former Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney said this sort of action could be here to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK CARNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND: What I'd say about the ruling is that it is part of a general trend, which is that there needs to
be a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for heavy emitters, and there's none more so than in the fossil fuel industry.
The best companies recognize that and they're changing their business strategies. If they do that they will be profitable and they'll create
value for their shareholders and for their communities. If they don't, they're going to end up with very large stranded assets. So the ruling is
in the direction of what companies need to do anyways.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Mark Carney there. Now, staying with energy and energy prices, rising energy is amongst the key factors pushing up the rate of inflation.
As the U.S. economy reopens, and those concerns grow ever bigger.
So, for instance, here we have in many places gas prices are above the psychological price point of $3.00 a gallon. Okay, that might be cheap
where you live. In the United States, that's already up 33 percent for the year.
We also have corn futures. Now, this corn has probably seen a few better days, but it is still nice on the barbecue once it's been shucked and
husked. That is up some 30 percent.
And you couldn't buy this for love nor money earlier in the pandemic, but toilet paper and paper products are on the rise. The cost of wood pulp is
up 24 percent year-to-date.
Now, look, what's the connection between all these three? None, you arguably say. But Morning Star is raising its 2021 inflation forecast from
2.3 to 2.9 percent, while the annual inflation rate last month was 4.2 percent.
Clare Sebastian is in New York. These numbers are higher than the sort of two percent target that the Fed was going to -- but this new asymmetric
will allow it to go ahead. Well, what does that mean now for inflation?
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Richard, this is uncharted territory. We simply don't know. There is a huge intellectual
debate raging around this now. Is the Fed correct to say that their plan going forward is to let inflation run a little bit above target as we see
the pent-up demand come back and the supply chain distortions work itself out?
Are they correct in doing that in order to let the labor market recover? Or are the likes of Larry Summers correct who says that some of these elements
of inflation are not transitory, the likes of the housing market perhaps, wage price increases. Does inflation expectations which are crucially
important and of course people are very worried about the Biden stimulus, is that going to overheat the economy?
SEBASTIAN: So, as this intellectual debate rages there, Richard, businesses are grappling with these sharp price increases and these supply chain
distortions on a daily basis. Think about this, Richard, the next time you ride the elevator up to your studio.
JEFF FRIEDMAN, CEO, NATIONAL ELEVATOR CAB AND DOOR: This is the wall of an elevator cab, the exterior structural wall.
SEBASTIAN (voice over): For a business that specializes in, well, things that go up, 2021 has come as a shock.
FRIEDMAN: This is made of carbon steel. Carbon steel which months ago cost us around 45 to 50 cents a pound and today, it is costing us around a
dollar a pound.
SEBASTIAN (on camera): So that's more than double.
FRIEDMAN: More than doubled, yes.
SEBASTIAN (voice over): The sharp increase in the price of steel, their main raw material has come with sharp decreases in supply as the steel
mills that shut down during COVID have struggled to ramp back up quick enough.
FRIEDMAN: This is stainless steel here, these are going to be the decorative skins for a door panel. There are real supply shortages in this.
We're being told, material that we might wait a week for to be two to three months.
SEBASTIAN (voice over): For the first time in four years, CEO Jeff Friedman is having to raise prices on new work. His business like many others caught
in the middle of a post-COVID supply-demand crunch.
DAVID WILCOX, SENIOR FELLOW, PETERSEN INSTITUTE: There are some supply constraints that are choking certain aspects of the economy. There are
areas where demand is surging for the first time in 15 months.
SEBASTIAN (voice over) In April, consumer prices rose 4.2 percent compared to a year ago. The biggest jump since 2008. One major contributor, a 21
percent rise in the price of used cars and trucks as global microchip shortages impacted supply of new cars, and that along with stimulus checks,
urban flight and a fear of public transport drove demand for older vehicles.
SEBASTIAN (on camera): This Toyota Prius for example, just sold for around $6,000.00 a year ago, the dealer tells us, the price would've been more
like $5,000.00. He says, he is having to increase prices by at least 20 percent across the board.
JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: This one-time increases in prices are likely to have only transitory effects on inflation.
SEBASTIAN (voice over): The Federal Reserve says this won't last and they won't raise rates until more people get back into work. Economists say
it'll take more than just price rises to shift that view.
WILCOX: I think the warning signs are does higher inflation get reflected in inflation expectations? I need to raise my prices if I'm a business firm
because my competitors are doing that, because my workers are demanding wage increases.
SEBASTIAN (voice over): At National Elevator Cab and Door in Brooklyn, while wages have gone up as the company works through a backlog of pre-
COVID contracts, its future demand that keeps the CEO awake at night.
FRIEDMAN: How many elevators will people need? How fast will buildings want to replace what they have? So that is an existential question for us. The
price of material is painful, we'll survive, but if people don't come back to buildings, we've got a problem.
SEBASTIAN (voice over): And that the internal wiring of the post-COVID economy is still not clear. Something which will ultimately determine the
prices we pay.
SEBASTIAN (on camera): So inflation clearly a concern, Richard, and of course, if inflation spirals, that hurts the most vulnerable. But I want to
quickly show you a picture I took today before I go because there's another side to this.
On the right of the picture, you see a line for a pop-up food bank event on New York's upper west side and on the left, a vaccination site, a pop-up
vaccination site. This is what the Fed is also looking at. We mustn't forget that there are eight million fewer people in the job market than
there were pre-pandemic.
They are still lining up for food. The Fed hopes that as the vaccination lines go up, the food bank lines and unemployment lines will come down, but
they are waiting still to raise rates until they see more of that.
QUEST: Clare, thank you. Thank you for reminding us of that, Clare Sebastian.
As you and I continue tonight, the head of Lufthansa tells me trust was broken around the diversion of a Ryanair flight.
Also, the Dream Hotel Group reopens back in the Big Apple, the CEO is with me after the break
QUEST: Chief Executive of Lufthansa says it's in a wave of optimism in recent weeks and expects a transatlantic travel bubble to be established in
short order. I asked Carsten Spore, what's giving him this hope.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
CARSTEN SPOHR, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, LUFTHANSA: We open up destinations wherever restrictions fall, and the bookings just jump up. As a matter of
fact, we'll be able this summer to offer the whole width of the network with all destinations which were offered in the past also being offered
this summer. Less frequencies, small airplanes. But the destinations are available for our passengers.
QUEST: And how confident are you? What do you hear about the opening up of a transatlantic corridor? It -- I mean, I heard what President von der
Leyen said, I've heard what the U.S. has said. It begs the question just get on with it and establish it.
SPOHR: Well, the European Commission took a very important decision two weeks ago recommending to its member states to be open for business, to be
open for travelers from the U.S. for example, who are vaccinated and to allow them in. And more and more European countries actually are allowing
them in. And we're just now two weeks away from the summit where President Biden will meet President Macron and Chancellor Merkel.
And I think the three of them know about the importance of the transatlantic relationship. And that makes me positive that we'll be
hearing about an opening hopefully soon. I think it's important to say that the events and lending market is not only one of the most -- and maybe the
most important aviation market. It's also a lifeline that connects, you know, to areas which share values, which share history.
Therefore, for my country, Germany, it probably wouldn't exist the way it does without the U.S. and its support in the last decade. So, I think it's
important we open that lifeline again, not only on behalf of our industry, but for everything else which is built around it.
QUEST: For understandable reasons, the amount of coordination during the pandemic was woefully lacking between airlines, governments, regulators,
and I understand why, everybody was actually dealing with the crisis. But are you satisfied now that regulators, governments and airlines are -- all
the necessary participants are coordinating.
SPOHR: I am not happy how things are evolving. I think we could be a lot faster. But nevertheless, we are accepting those offers in the markets for
our passengers. So we have digital solutions in those countries where they are offered. We are working with IATA, our global organization to offer
something standardized eventually.
SPOHR: And the European Commission indeed and record speed has agreed to offer something as of July 1st. So, things we all have joined probably the
impatience, which we have -- unfortunately been through in the last month. And the thing we're now catching up.
QUEST: What more would you like to say?
SPOHR: Well, I think the one thing we now need is to agree on an international digital pass, which proves that the passenger is either
vaccinated or tested or has been through the infection.
And that digital pass needs to be recognized, initially, probably at least in Europe, and our countries within the U.S. and all airports. And then we
work towards a global system after that. I think that is some of the realisms, or realities of traveling in the future to have such a pass.
It needs to be digital, not on paper. And that I think, is the next big step besides the opening up itself, which is of course driven by
restrictions being eased.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
QUEST: That's the airline side of the story to -- so to hospitality and in New York City, Dream Hotels Groups reopened its doors in downtown Manhattan
time for the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. The group welcome guests back it's Midtown hotel earlier this month.
Dream operates more than a dozen properties in cities, including Los Angeles and Bangkok. And Jay Stein is the chief executive. He joins me from
New York via Skype. Jay, you're on the roof. Can you hear -- no? Can you hear me, Jay?
JAY STEIN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, DREAM HOTEL GROUP (via Skype): Hello, Richard, how are you?
QUEST: Oh, good. You can hear me. You're on the roof. And you're looking good, sir. You're looking good. Tell me the reopening of these hotels is --
we've spoke -- we spoke during the crisis. How -- I mean, what -- where are you -- where are your guests coming from? Is it predominantly domestic
demand? And have you got hopes of international travelers coming back soon?
STEIN: Yes, Richard. It says mainly leisure demand, the corporate demand is still very weak. So drive to markets for the first one to come back. And --
but now we're seeing good demand coming back through air travel. But the vast majority of still leisure demand.
QUEST: Now we -- as we know, the airlines are ramping up. And we know there's pent up demand. What sorts of occupancy are you expecting to see in
the early spring into the summer? Are you going to get to full hotels?
STEIN: Yes. So it varies by location. So, in New York, we're still not going to get to very high demand. Cities starting to see between 30 and 50
percent which is dramatically better than the 10 that had been running for almost a year. But in other markets, Miami is 110 percent back, stronger
than it's ever been. Our hotel in Nashville. Weekends are sold out and midweek are about 20 percent off.
The Dream Nashville, Dream Hollywood, fairly similar, getting almost near sold out on the weekends and midweek up around a 50 -- 40, 50 percent range
and our unscripted hotel in Durham also weekend's getting near sold out. Midweek still dragging a little bit.
QUEST: What -- as a hotelier, what do you want from regulators, from tour operators, from tourism executives, from marketing, you know, cities, from
officials, what do you need to know now about the future direction of what's going to happen?
STEIN: Sorry, Richard. What could they be doing for us at this point?
STEIN: Is that what you asked?
STEIN: Yes. So, you know, the biggest thing was getting people comfortable to travel, right? So if they're - if they're comfortable travel, they're
going to travel, they're going to need a place to stay. That's where we come in. And that's starting to happen now, internationally, not nearly as
strong but domestically that's starting to happen. So how does -- what improves that, more people want to get on airlines.
What gets people comfortable to get on airlines, they have their vaccines, the CDC is saying it's safe to travel. So now that's all happening and
that's really changing quite dramatically in the last month. So now if we can start getting the corporate business and the corporate traveler to
start traveling, and to fill the office buildings in the urban centers, we'll be well on our way to get back to normal.
QUEST: So now the dreaded question, the rate. Are you able to hold the rate or are you having to discount?
STEIN: So, again, it pretty much follows the areas that I said that a strong. So Miami we're getting the rate and then some. Nashville Hollywood
pretty close to where we would expect to be charging this time of year.
New York is still significantly lower. Um, but New York is just starting to come back in the last six weeks. We open two hotels, the Dream in Midtown
and today, the Dream here in downtown I'm sitting on the rooftop bar and excited to welcome guests back.
I'm really excited to have all of our employees are starting to come back. They've been laid off for 14 months, furloughed in many cases. So, it's
exciting day for us here.
QUEST: Jay, next time we do an interview, it'll be on that rooftop and I'll be there with you. And we can have -- we can have a drink or two. I'd love
to see you, sir. Thank you. It's good to have some good news --
STEIN: Look forward to. Thank you.
QUEST: -- for what's happening. Thank you. So, I want to show you the markets are just how we are going to leave you for the moment. Not terribly
exciting, but that in itself is a story. Because this is now the second day where we've had this directionless trade bouncing around the zero even if
we don't lose maybe 90 points or gain 50 points, that we do see, the significance is the directionless trade that's taking place as people are
waiting, watching and you see that right across all three major indices.
And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I will have the dash to the bell at the top of the hour. Coming up next, Marketplace Europe.
QUEST: I'm Richard Quest. And now we have a dash to the closing bell, which is just two minutes away. The Dow maybe celebrating its 125th birthday. But
there's no sense of direction. Maybe it's getting ready for a big party. I mean, just look at it. The air went out the balloon about 1:00, as you can
see and it's just literally to (INAUDIBLE) about. It could be because we have a long holiday weekend coming up, the Memorial Day.
And people don't want to take positions. They're just waiting and see. They're gasping their way. Stocks are flat and the triple stack shows the
broader markets. The S&P virtually unchanged. NASDAQ put on just a tad, a tad bit of extra weight.
Belarus' Alexandra Lukashenko says this country had the right to divert that Ryanair plane to Minsk. The head of Europe's largest airline disagrees
and says the move was a breach of trust. In an exclusive interview of Lufthansa's executive Carsten Spohr told me the repercussions aren't over
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPOHR: When passengers board our airplanes, they trust us and us in this case is the whole industry. The whole system, they're safe. And that, of
course, overflying a country where there might be an issue is never anything to be doubtful about.
And that this trust in a way was broken, indeed is an issue of our industry. That's why this industry is fully aligned in supporting the
international community in its reactions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: And I'll show you quickly the Dow 30. And who is at the top tonight? It is Nike with a gain of 1.8. And the other end you can see the Walgreens
Boots Alliance down four percent. Otherwise, pretty much betwixt and between.
And that's where the markets are looking tonight. That is the dash to the bell as we head to the closing bell. I'm Richard Quest in New York.
Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, from my bell to theirs, hope it's profitable. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts next.