Return to Transcripts main page
Quest Means Business
U.S. Recovers Millions In Cryptocurrency Paid To Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Hackers; Jeff Bezos Announces Plan To Fly To Space In July; El Salvador Plans To Adopt Bitcoin As Legal Currency; FBI: Today We Deprived A Cybercriminal Enterprise Of Their Proceeds And Funding; U.K. Travelers Rush Out Of Portugal Before New Quarantine Rules. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired June 07, 2021 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: One hour of trade left here at the New York Stock Exchange. We want to take a look at those markets. A bit of
a down day here, but also quite mixed. You'll see the selloff though on the Dow Jones beginning to keep up pace here in the last hour of trading.
Those are the markets and now to the main events: U.S. investigators have recovered millions of dollars' worth of ransom money paid to hackers by
Jeff Bezos has booked a summer holiday, we'll call it "to space." He is taking his brother along for the ride.
And airlines are demanding action on transatlantic travel. You'll hear Richard's exclusive interview with the head of IAG live from New York, in
fact, the New York Stock Exchange. It's Monday, the seventh of June, I'm Paula Newton and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
And we do begin with breaking news: investigators in the United States have recovered millions of dollars' worth of cryptocurrency that was paid as a
ransom, remember, by an American pipeline company. Now last month, Colonial Pipeline supposedly paid hackers more than $4 million after a devastating
Now CNN has learned that some money has been recovered. We are expecting a news conference at the Department of Justice at any moment. We'll bring
that to you live.
First, we start with Alex Marquardt who is in Washington with us with these breaking details. Alex, I know how carefully you have been watching the
story. And of course, the issue here has always been that the Justice Department of the U.S. government says look, paying ransom is what American
companies should not do. So tell me how all of this latest breaking news fits in.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, companies are in a very tough spot, Paula, as you know, because they are being told
by the U.S. government and others to not pay this ransom. But at the same time, they feel -- many of them -- that they have to get their operations
back up and running. They have clients to serve, they have local officials screaming down the phone at them.
I mean, a case like Colonial Pipeline, when that pipeline went down, it caused gas shortages up and down the East Coast, long lines of gas stations
and gas prices to spike. So this is a rare good news story amidst this plague really, if you will, of ransomware attacks.
What happened according to people who have been briefed on the matter and as you mentioned, we're about to get more details from the Department of
Justice is that several million dollars, we don't know exactly how much was recovered from this ransomware payment that was paid by Colonial to the
hackers who are believed to be based in Russia.
The reported amount that Colonial had paid was $4.4 million and what we know is that the F.B.I., because of what they had heard from Colonial,
because the work that they had done with Colonial, they were able to track down this cryptocurrency wallet and essentially confiscate this money.
So this is great news for this fight against ransomware attackers, and it really does highlight the crux of the issue when you talk to Biden
administration officials. The Biden administration, you know, now after these two major ransomware attacks against two parts of the critical
infrastructure, first Colonial and then the JBS Foods attack last week, one of the biggest food producers in the world, they have said that one of the
biggest things that they want to do is to track and follow the money essentially, so that they can they can disrupt these networks.
So this is something that that they are keenly focused on, as well as, of course disrupting the networks in general, and working with other
countries, like European partners, for example, to hold other countries that harbor these ransomware attackers responsible like Russia, and what
you're going to see in the coming days as President Biden goes to Europe, not just to meet with President Putin face-to-face in Geneva, and talk to
him about this string of ransomware attacks that have emanated from Russia, but Biden is going to be speaking with European and other allies about this
growing business, if you will.
That is how ransomware attackers see this, this growing industry, and spate of attacks against all sorts of organizations, large and small, who will
often see their networks taken hostage and shut down by ransomware attackers until they pay a ransom.
In this case, the ransom was paid. But now according to several CNN have spoken with, much of it, several million dollars' worth of that ransom was
taken back -- Paula.
NEWTON: Yes. And of course, Alex, this is an important development, that track and trace of the money. Here's the issue though, Alex, a lot of
people tell us that look, we don't know all the ransomware attacks that have taken place. A lot of companies choose not to disclose it. And at
issue here is the government itself.
Now, I know this administration has only been in for a few months, but what do intelligence sources tell you they are going to do from now on, from
something that they call really the new terrorism.
MARQUARDT: Well, not only are U.S. officials, and really a growing number of cybersecurity experts on the side of "don't pay this ransom." But
they're saying even if you're going to pay the ransom now, at least let us know. At least tell us what the demands are, at least tell us if you're
going to make these ransom payments, because then they have a greater capability to track down these malicious actors and that appears to be what
has happened here.
We know that there was communication early on, in this crisis of Colonial being hit. There was that communication with F.B.I. and the F.B.I. was able
to use whatever Colonial was giving them in order to track down this money, and so when you've talked to Intelligence officials, cybersecurity
officials and the Biden administration about what they plan to do, cryptocurrency and its tracking, the analysis of it is really one of the
first things if not the first thing that comes up, because at the end of the day, you know, they get questions, obviously, about whether they're
going to go after the groups that carry out these attacks -- in this case, it was a group called Darkside -- that they see as a short term solution.
They can take these groups offline, but they will often pop up elsewhere. But if they can go after the money, take the money, track the money, they
can actually -- they can remove the incentive for these hackers to keep doing this -- Paula.
NEWTON: Yes, and we will continue to watch that press conference. You see the live shot of it there. And we will be back to Washington as soon as we
get more developments on the story.
Alex, thanks so much for the update. Appreciate it.
Now, Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos plans to give himself a huge send off when he steps down as the company's CEO. He is preparing to go to outer space
just two weeks after his last day in the corner office. Now, he is booked to fly aboard the first manned flight of his Blue Origin side venture. It
is only 11 minutes, folks. It is a sub orbital flight that is scheduled to take place on July 20th. Bezos says sir, these are his words, that, "it's a
moment he's been waiting for all his life."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON: You see the Earth from space, it changes you. It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity.
It's one Earth.
I want to go on this flight because it's the thing I've wanted to do all my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: For more on this, Rachel Crane is our business innovation and space correspondent. This is quite the joy ride, Rachel. Can you give us the nuts
and bolts of all this especially since you know the trip is only about 11 minutes long, but what will it look like and what's the risk level?
RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATIONS AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Paula, and I've got to say, I am so envious of Mark Bezos that he is
getting the hitch along on this flight. I wish I could be a part of it.
Well, let me tell you a little bit about the journey that they will go on, these Bezos brothers, on this sub-orbital flight. They'll fly in the fully
autonomous spacecraft, meaning there will be no pilots on board and they'll be blasted up to three times the speed of sound up to an apogee of over 60
miles above Earth, officially earning their astronaut wings.
And after experiencing a few incredible minutes of weightlessness, the dome-shaped spacecraft will bring the passengers back down to Earth in a
parachuted landing. The whole journey lasts as you pointed out, only about 11 minutes and the spacecraft is their new Shepard spacecraft. Blue Origin,
which was founded by Jeff Bezos, more than 20 years ago has been working for more than six years on this spacecraft. They've had 15 successful
consecutive spaceflights with the spacecraft, but none of them have had humans on board. They've had payloads, but no crew.
So that is what's so historic here about this upcoming July 20th launch that both Mark Bezos, Jeff Bezos and also another customer will be on
board. Blue Origin is hosting a live auction right now for that additional seat. And Paula, the going price at this point is $2.8 million. So that 11-
minute journey, every second counts, and is expensive, every second, it is trading at over $4,000.00 a second at this moment and that price tag could
go up because the online auction will end in a live auction on June 12th.
So you know, a lot of space enthusiasts wish that they had the big bucks to pay this big price tag to go on this historic journey, but it is definitely
not your average gift. I've never heard of a cooler gift between siblings - - Paula.
NEWTON: Yes, absolutely not. As a mother, I think I would want a veto on the two brothers going there together, but okay, apparently, perhaps
they've checked with mom, Rachel. I really hope somebody checked with her, anyway.
Okay, we know you will be covering all of those details. Now, we go to the first civilian passengers who have reached the stars. You know, Rachel was
just saying that this is really about space tourism.
NEWTON: This is though, at least for now, the Earth orbit. That was the first time that tourists went and that was 20 years ago. So this did happen
in some form back in 2001 -- a little history for you here -- Dennis Tito paid the Russians $20 million for his space odyssey. Bezos will be the
first rocket company owner doing it. He has been spending up to a billion dollars a year on Blue Origin mostly by selling Amazon stock.
Now, Elon Musk's SpaceX, that I have to remind some viewers, aims to take passengers into space later this year. And of course, there's Richard
Branson's Virgin Galactic which is aiming for next year. So far, neither of those two men have said that they will be on the inaugural flights.
Now, as Rachel just mentioned, a third seat right there auctioning it off on that Blue Origin flight. Now, the bidding as we are on the air right now
currently stands at $3.2 million. SpaceX passengers paid $55 million for their planned trip.
Now, former NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao joins me now live from Houston. You are the real deal, man. You are the astronaut, a former International Space
Station Commander. And I'm so interested to hear from you what you believe, Mr. Bezos, you know, what he is doing here? What do you believe this kind
of space tourism can bolster? Can it do for space exploration?
LEROY CHIAO, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, this is a very exciting moment, we've been waiting a long time even for suborbital flights, the first
privately funded vehicle with people on board that went above the so-called one Karman line, 62 miles, about 100 kilometers, was in 2003 was Spaceship
One. Spaceship One.
And then since then, there was a claim that by 2005, you know, we would be seeing regular parabolic flights into the -- you know, just the very
reaches of space. And of course, here we are in 2021, it hasn't happened yet.
So it's been a long time and coming, but it is very exciting because it's about to happen. Also, I'd like to point out that the July 20th is not an
accident, because of course that's the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and I understand Jeff Bezos is just a couple of years younger
than me, but he, like I watched that live and that was something that inspired both of us.
NEWTON: Yes, it caught so many of our imaginations. Certainly, just looking at the video today, it is thrilling more than a half century later. But I
have to ask you, as scientists here, what does this add to our understanding of space, and certainly position it will hold for us in
decades to come?
CHIAO: Certainly, suborbital spaceflight, you're only going to be weightless and in space for a few minutes. And so there's not a lot of
research that can be done. There's some research that can be done on suborbital flights. But really, if you're going to be doing kind of the
heavier lifting, you know, kind of research, you're going to need to go to a space station like the ISS.
And so the difference is, of course, these vehicles are only going to spend a few minutes in space, or as the orbital vehicles are able to go to the
ISS, and then remain docked for up to several months. And so, this is exciting because it gets more excitement into the general public about
spaceflight. Certainly, luminaries like Mr. Bezos and his brother getting to go fly together, that is going to make a lot waves, if you will.
And so, you know, this is finally the beginning of that kind of the broader tourism effort, as you pointed out, the first, so-called spaceflight for
participant went up about 20 years ago.
NEWTON: Yes, and how would you assess the risk here? I mean, you literally had a lifetime of training practically before becoming an astronaut. This
is different. Of course, this is going to be categorized as space tourism. But Phil, I mean, you have to parachute out of that rocket as well. I'm
interested to get your take on it.
CHIAO: Certainly, anytime you're going to be putting energy into a vehicle to get it up out of the atmosphere, there's going to be risk involved and
this is no exception. You know, rocket engines are complex, a lot of moving parts, it has to work, and it has to work right. Every time, otherwise, you
know, you could have an issue.
And so yes, the risk is significant, no question about it. The fact that the vehicle has flown 15 times previously successfully is a big confidence
builder. And I think the fact that Jeff Bezos is going to fly in the first flight is a testament to his confidence in the vehicle.
You know, interesting, I'm sure his shareholders and his you know, the Board of Directors made sure that he had a succession plan in place and all
the paperwork was signed before they let him go and sign up for this flight.
NEWTON: Yes, I'm sure though, as you can relate, it's still that tough goodbye to your family just before you go up there. This really is the
commercialization though of space in a way. Is it something you welcome? Do you think it will make our space exploration stronger by getting -- first
off, igniting the imagination of everyone around the world who can relate to it, but also getting certainly for profit companies involved?
CHIAO: Yes, on both counts. I think, certainly the excitement it is going to generate. And you know, as we see other luminaries start to fly at least
suborbital and perhaps orbital as well, that will generate more interest, and so I think that's the biggest contribution and the fact that we are
going to see if these commercial entities can make a profit, can stand on their own.
You know, it's still an open question after the first several hundred go and do this, will the demand stay there? Will it be sustainable? So it'll
be interesting to see.
NEWTON: It really will be in and especially what it will add, because certainly when I was watching "The Jetsons," I don't know if you watched
"The Jetsons," but we all kind of thought space travel would be something we might be doing by now, and it is interesting just to see it in its
tentative form now with Jeff Bezos.
Thanks so much for being here. Really appreciate your insights.
CHIAO: My pleasure.
NEWTON: Now, coming up still this hour, two aviation heavyweights weigh in on the future of air travel, the CEOs of Airbus and IAG speak to Richard
And a major shakeup in the world of cryptocurrency as El Salvador promises to become the first country in the world to legally recognize Bitcoin.
NEWTON: Now, Bitcoin could soon become an official currency in El Salvador. Over the weekend, the country's President said he plans to ask Congress to
approve a bill making Bitcoin legal tender.
This is a move that would give Salvadorans without bank accounts access to the financial system. Patrick Oppmann is following the story from Havana.
Patrick, good to see you. And as I was just saying, this thing has been billed as really a majority for the vast majority of -- sorry -- as a
victory for the vast majority of Salvadorans who are currently not participating in what we would call the formal financial system. But how is
this really going to work for people on the ground?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, a lot of details still need to be released here, Paula, but it is a milestone and this appears to be a
secret to the President of El Salvador, has been keeping for some time as he has been working with some financial service companies to put this all
And then, as you mentioned, some 70 percent of Salvadorans do not have bank accounts, they are not part of the formal economy and how do you convince
people who are essentially keeping money underneath their mattress to use a currency you can't see or touch, but particularly in a country like El
Salvador, where you have $6 billion a year coming in from Salvadorans in the U.S., coming via remittances and remittance companies.
OPPMANN: Very easily, Bitcoin could take over a lot of that business, save people in theory, money, but then as well, it's just going to be a leap for
people, but people do have cell phones, but they don't have bank accounts. That's all you really need in a lot of ways to get into the crypto market.
And beyond that, El Salvador is hoping that some crypto entrepreneurs will want --
NEWTON: And apologies to Patrick there, we are joining a press conference at the U.S. Justice Department on the Colonial Pipeline hack. We will
LISA MONACO, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: ... today by F.B.I. Deputy Director of Paul Abbate and acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District
of California, Stephanie Hinds to discuss the work of the department's Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force in combating the epidemic of
ransomware attacks by criminal groups.
Also with us, our Assistant Attorney General for National Security, John Demers, and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division,
Ransomware attacks have increased in both scope and sophistication in the last year, targeting our critical infrastructure, businesses of all types,
whole cities, and even law enforcement. Ransomware and digital extortion pose a national security and an economic security threat to the United
The Department of Justice working with our partners is committed to using all of our tools at -- all the tools at our disposal to disrupt these
networks, and the abuse of the online infrastructure that allows this threat to persist.
The sophisticated use of technology to hold businesses and even whole cities hostage for profit is decidedly a 21st Century challenge. But the
old adage, "follow the money" still applies, and that's exactly what we do.
After Colonial Pipeline's quick notification to law enforcement, and pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by the United States District Court
for the Northern District of California earlier today, the Department of Justice has found and recaptured the majority of the ransom Colonial paid
to the Darkside network in the wake of last month's ransomware attack.
Ransomware attacks are always unacceptable. But when they target critical infrastructure, we will spare no effort in our response.
Darkside is a ransomware as a service network. That means developers who sell or lease ransomware to use in attacks in return for a fee or a share
on the proceeds. Darkside and its affiliates have been digitally stalking U.S. companies for the better part of last year and indiscriminately
attacking victims that include key players in our nation's critical infrastructure.
Today, we turned the tables on Darkside. By going after the entire ecosystem that fuels ransomware and digital extortion attacks, including
criminal proceeds in the form of digital currency, we will continue to use all of our tools and all of our resources to increase the cost and the
consequences of ransomware attacks and other cyber enabled attacks.
The seizure announced today was conducted as part of the department's recently launched Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force which was
established to investigate, disrupt, and prosecute ransomware and digital extortion activity.
This is the task force's first operation of this kind. This work is important because every day, the digital threats that we face are more
diverse, more sophisticated and more dangerous. In this heightened threat landscape, we all have a role to play in keeping our nation safe. No
organization is immune.
So today, I want to emphasize to leaders of corporations and communities alike, the threat of severe ransomware attacks, pose a clear and present
danger to your organization, to your company, to your customers, to your shareholders, and to your long-term success, so pay attention now. Invest
MONACO: Failure to do so could be the difference between being secure now, or a victim later. But also know that we are all in this together, the U.S.
government will continue to do more to increase our nation's resilience, while increasing the costs to our digital adversaries and those that enable
or harbor them. And we cannot do so without you.
The Department of Justice will continue to evolve as the threat evolves. That is why one of the first acts I took after returning to the Department
was to launch a strategic cyber review. That is why Federal prosecutors now report ransomware incidents in the same way that they report critical
threats to our national security. And that is why we will continue to work with our public and private partners both here and globally, to bring our
collective authorities together to confront emerging threats.
There is no higher priority for the Department of Justice than using all available tools to protect our nation that includes from ransomware and
other digital threats.
Thank you. And now I'll turn the podium over to Deputy Director Paul Abbate.
PAUL ABBATE, F.B.I. DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Thank you, DAG Monaco. Good afternoon, everyone. Today, the F.B.I. successfully seized criminal proceeds from a
Bitcoin wallet that Darkside ransomware actors used to collect a cyber- ransom payment from a victim.
Since last year, we've been pursuing an investigation into Darkside, a Russia based cybercrime group. The Darkside ransomware variant is one of
more than 100 ransomware variants that the F.B.I. is currently investigating.
Darkside developers market their ransomware to criminal affiliates, who then conduct attacks and share a percentage of the proceeds with the
developers, a scheme known as ransomware as a service.
In this case, the F.B.I. has identified more than 90 victims across multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors. Those include manufacturing,
legal, insurance, healthcare, and energy.
Based on our investigation into Darkside, an incredible work with other U.S. government partners, we identified a virtual currency wallet that the
Darkside actors use to collect a payment from a victim. Using law enforcement authorities, victim funds were seized from that wallet
preventing Darkside actors from using it.
This is just the latest disruption that the F.B.I. and D.O.J. have taken to impose risk and consequences on cyber-adversaries.
Since announcing our new cyber strategy last year, we have dismantled the infrastructure of the Emotet, a criminal botnet, through an unprecedented
coalition of U.S. and international law enforcement and private industry partners.
Additionally, we have joined other government partners to expose a cyber- tool developed by the Russian GRU. We have also used legal authorities to remove malicious backdoors installed on the networks of Microsoft Exchange
Server customers across the United States.
And just last week, D.O.J. announced the seizure of two command and control domains used by the perpetrators of a wide-spear phishing campaign.
This focus on joint action and collaboration is exemplified by the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, which brings together Intelligence
Community, law enforcement and cybersecurity agencies for a whole of government approach against these cyber threats.
Our partners in the Intelligence Community and across government are central to these efforts. Leveraging each of our authorities and
capabilities enables us to conduct coordinated operations to respond to and deter malicious activity from groups like Darkside.
There's a lot of exceptional behind the scenes teamwork that goes into both identifying effective ways to target adversaries, and predicating actions
that we may take against them.
I want to give major thanks to the incredibly hard working special agents, Intelligence analysts and professional staff of the F.B.I.'s Atlanta and
San Francisco field offices, and the F.B.I. Cyber Division, along with government-wide partners who assisted in this investigation and seizure.
These cases require a significant level of determination and technical expertise, and without a doubt, every individual involved displayed that
through the achievements reflected here today.
We continue to be committed to using the information intelligence we develop through our investigations to take early, meaningfully --
meaningful steps to protect the public, and be preventative. We will continue to work relentlessly and seek innovative ways to use our unique
authorities, world class capabilities and enduring partnerships for maximum impact against our adversaries.
Today, we deprived a cybercriminal enterprise of the object of their activity, their financial proceeds and funding. For financially motivated
cyber criminals, especially those presumably located overseas, cutting off access to revenue is one of the most impactful consequences we can impose.
When the FBI combines our law enforcement and intelligence authorities, with those of our partners in government, and the cooperative relationship
with private industry, and when we have victims willing to share information to further our collective efforts against cyber adversaries, we
can have immediate, permanent effect on ransomware actors.
That is why it is so critical for victims to report intrusions to us as soon as possible, and then work with us to provide evidence and
intelligence for our investigations, leading to recovery, attribution, and ultimately prevention. Victim reporting not only can give us information,
we need to have immediate real world impact on the actors. It can also help prevent future intrusions into other victim networks and prevent further
harm from occurring.
With continued cooperation and support from victims, private industry, and our U.S. and international partners, we will bring to bear the full weight
and strength of our combined efforts and resources against those actors who think nothing of threatening public safety, and our national security for
profit. Thank you. And I now like to invite to the podium, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, Stephanie Hines.
NEWTON: I'm Paula Newton in the New York Stock Exchange. You were just listening there to a joint press conference from the FBI and the U.S.
Department of Justice. What's so significant here is that they say that they were able to recover the ransom, the ransom paid. And you'll remember
that dramatic attack on the colonial pipeline here in the United States that led to severe shortages of gasoline and other energy products across
the country here.
Now they say that, in fact, they are aware now that this so-called dark side what they described as a Russia cyber terror group that they have now
disrupted, they've identified nine victims and have disrupted their operation. What's really interesting here is the fact that they say that
they are following the money, just like you would in any other what they call a terror investigation, or what intelligence officials have been
They say that the effect is immediate and permanent. And the reason they are having this press conference and pleading so widely to businesses,
principally U.S. businesses with businesses around the world is saying look, don't pay a ransom and also report it. We'll continue to follow here.
This on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. But the issue here is that many companies choose to pay the ransom, instead of reporting that they've actually some
kind of a breach.
We'll bring you more news on that when we get it. In the meantime, the rush is on for British tourists to board flights out of Portugal and back home,
where the country moves from green to amber on the U.K.'s travel list. Now the change comes into effect less than eight hours from now. This is quite
a scramble, after that anyone landing in the U.K. from Portugal will need to undergo 10 days of safe -- self-isolation.
Now it is cut holiday short, created airport chaos. You can see some of it right there and of course angered the aviation industry. Airline CEOs on
both sides of the Atlantic are pressuring Joe Biden and Boris Johnson to hammer out a so-called transatlantic travel bubble this week at the G7.
They made their place in a virtual press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG PARKER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AMERICAN AIRLINES: While vaccinations aren't required in the United States, that doesn't mean vaccinations won't
be required to travel between the United States and U.K. to this quarter. And we're certainly prepared for that.
ED BASTIAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AIR LINES: The chances of a person getting on a plane and traveling between the U.K. and the U.S. is a -- and
having COVID is approximately one in 10,000.
SHAI WEISS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: It's really time that we focus on the economic harm that we're causing the economies in both sides of the pond.
SEAN DOYLE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, BRITISH AIWAYS: But I think if Britain wants to be global Britain and to be open for business, it simply has to
get trading again. And anybody who thinks who can trade but (INAUDIBLE) you know they're fitting themselves.
ROBIN HAYES, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, JET BLUE: U.K. and U.S. have led the world in the vaccine program. And now is the time for the citizens of those
two countries to benefit from that with the options of travel.
SCOTT KIRBY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, UNITED AIRLINES: We are in the peak travel season for travel between the U.S. and U.K. And every single day
that goes by, is a day lost for the recovery. So sooner, the better at the G7 hopefully at the latest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Now which requests spoke exclusively to the CEO of IAG. And he joins me now. There you are, Richard. It has been a minute. Good to see
you. Listen, this has been a topic of discussion. I think from the first few weeks of the pandemic, we had you talking about it over and over.
When are the skies going to open up? Here we are, almost we're going to be really at 18 months at the end of this. What are they saying to you now
about when it can open and how it should open?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The hope was that it would be sooner it would be early June. The reality is the desperation. You can tell
the desperation by the fact that all those rival CEOs came together to make their plea today.
Afterwards, I spoke to Luis Gallego, the CEO and chairman of IAG, it owns Aer Lingus, it owns Iberia, Vueling, but most perhaps important at the
moment, it owns British Airways which has the majority of the business across the Atlantic.
And I asked Luis when he now believes B.A. and his airlines will be able to fly across the Atlantic.
LUIS GALLEGO, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES GROUP: When you see the numbers in U.K. in us, it doesn't make any sense not to open
this corridor. I think it's very important for both parties. We were flying in 2019 more than 25 destinations in the U.S. And the last year, we have
been flying less than five. And also to put another example in 2019. We were transporting 900,000 tons of cargo between the two countries.
So, every day that we don't have this corridor open, the U.K. businesses are losing around 23 million pounds. So I think it's a pity that we cannot
open this corridor where the scientific data shows that that is possible.
QUEST: The decision by the British government to withdraw Portugal from the green list was a huge disappointment for travel makers. Perfect for travel
holidaymakers. But it was a disaster for British Airways because it suggests progress is going to be much slower than we thought. And the
summer is going to be nowhere near as good as you'd planned. Is that what you're working now on the basis? It's not going to be an opening summer or
a particularly good summer?
GALLEGO: We still consider that we can have a summer, it's true that we didn't expect the political situation. We think that people vaccinated,
they can fly to bring a number of countries. We don't see why not. We see that the vaccination is effective, even against the variants that Indian
variant (INAUDIBLE) So, we don't see why we need to go in one direction and to come back. I think this is not good for the customers.
Now we have a lot of people in Portugal that we are trying to bring back to U.K. And I think we need is time to be brave. The governments they need to
be brave. And they need to understand that we need aviation in order to recover the economy in the world. So, I think it's important.
QUEST: Right. But I can hear the headline from what you're saying, it's time to be brave. I mean, that's the message that you're saying. What does
GALLEGO: Well, I think that means to open corridors. I think that it means also to have a border wall simple and proportionate testing to replace
quarantines that are not working anymore, to have borders within office staff and also use contactless technology, and also the (INAUDIBLE) passes
for testing and also for -- not only for testing but also to check the vaccination documentation. I think those four pillars are key.
QUEST: Those four pillars are what they hope will get them through, Paula. But the reality is at the moment, it's unlikely the hope had been that
maybe Joe Biden along with the E.U. leaders von der Leyen and Charles, Michel would announce the reopening of E.U.-U.S. at the summit next week.
The U.K. seems further behind at the moment. Nobody is willing to say when that the trans-Atlantic will reopen.
NEWTON: Yes, they're not being brave about that, are they, Richard? It has been quite a moving target for so many months now. Richard, good to see
you. Miss you here at the New York Stock Exchange. And we will wait to hear more from you, Richard. We'll have a special QUEST MEANS BUSINESS on
Thursday and he'll be joined by the Prime Minister of Croatia as well as the mayor of Dubrovnik where he was there just now.
And some of the airline industry's top CEOs. That's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS alive from Croatia on Thursday. That's 8:00 p.m. in London, 9:00 p.m. in
Croatia. And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
NEWTON: I'll be back at the top of the hour as we make that dash for the closing bell. Up next now for you, Connecting Africa.
NEWTON: Hello. I'm Paula Newton and it is the dash to the closing bell and we're just two minutes away now. Markets are mixed on a day where mean
stocks rose and the drug maker Biogen surged. Now the Dow is down 100 and - - about 120 points there. You can see the S&P is down as well. A touch, the NASDAQ though managing to stay in the green today. AMC is up more than 10
Biogen surged 40 percent on the company's newly approved Alzheimer's drug. Meantime, airline executives on both sides of the Atlantic are pressuring
Joe Biden and Boris Johnson to hammer out a transatlantic travel bubble when they meet this week at the G7. Now comes after a setback as Portugal
will be removed from the U.K.'s so called green list for travel Tuesday morning. CEO of AIG told Richard, it's time for governments to be brave.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GALLEGO: We say that the vaccination is effective, even against the variance that India variant (INAUDIBLE) So we don't see why we need to go
in one direction. And to come back. I think this is not good for the customers. Now we have a lot of people in Portugal that we are trying to
bring back to U.K. And I think we need -- it's time to be ready. The governments, they need to be brave and they need to understand that we need
aviation in order to recover the economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Now, we want to take a look at what's dragging down the Dow 30 today. Merck, Caterpillar, the Dow are the most down as you can see there.
Boeing and Microsoft though getting a bit of an uptick today. Still a lot of confusion in the market in terms of what the Fed is going to do, in
terms of tapering and of course that all important inflation concern which we'll continue to keep an eye on here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
That is your dash to the bell. You can hear the bell perhaps behind me. I'm Paula Newton at the New York Stock Exchange. The closing bell we're going
to hear it in a second and then it's "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper.