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Quest Means Business
W.H.O. Warns Of Fresh COVID Surge; Olympics To Open In Tokyo On Friday With Sobering Ceremony; French PM Says There Is Vaccination Uptick Thanks To New Measures; U.S. Announces Agreement With Germany Over Nord Stream 2; Delta Variant Fueling Latest COVID-19 Waves Across Globe; Mara Group Targets Africa's Massive Mobile Market; United To Buy 100 Electric Planes From Heart Aerospace. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired July 21, 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 HOST: There's an hour until the closing bell and Monday seems like a lifetime ago, a memory. The selloff has been
fully erased. Look at the numbers and you will see.
Strong day on the Dow, up three quarters of a percent, and we are now, as you can see, a gain of 266 points. Same with the triple stack. Everybody is
up across the board.
The markets, as they trade in the final hour and the main events at the middle of the week.
Pfizer has struck a deal to make its COVID vaccine in South Africa. The head of the W.T.O., Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is with me on this program.
The Chief Executive of Suntory will tell us the Olympics are losing their commercial value.
And with the delta variant surging in all corners of the globe, the head of Oxford University's vaccine program joins me live to ponder what's next.
You and I, well, I'm live in New York. It's the middle of the week, 21st of July. I'm Richard Quest. And of course, I mean business.
Good evening. We lead tonight on a story that we have covered so frequently because of its importance: vaccine inequality. And today, Pfizer and
BioNTech are taking a major step towards ending vaccine inequality by addressing the chronic imbalance of supplies around the world.
For the first time, their highly effective COVID vaccine is to be made in Africa, and this move should significantly ramp up availability on the
continent. The company has agreed to transfer technology, install equipment, and develop manufacturing capability.
CNN's David McKenzie has this report from Johannesburg.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The announcement by Pfizer and BioNTech is certainly significant. They are collaborating with a South
African company to produce their mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 here in South Africa, to be distributed solely to African union countries.
Now, once that comes online and is fully functioning in the coming months, they say it could produce at least 100 million doses of the vaccines
annually, and that could make a big dent in future needs of vaccination. The African continent needs vaccines right now. Many countries are dealing
with a surge of COVID-19 and less than two percent of the population, according to the W.H.O. is fully vaccinated.
Now, the move by the company certainly comes as it has been criticized for pushing to preserve intellectual property rights of this technology. In an
address to the World Trade Organization today, the CEO of Pfizer called for those rights again to be preserved while countries like South Africa and
India have called for a waiver to allow other manufacturers to get the technology and the knowhow to produce vaccines on a large scale.
David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.
QUEST: Researchers at Oxford University say only 13 percent of the world's population is now fully vaccinated, and the numbers which were compiled for
all world data show they are disproportionately in the West. Look at that, very clearly, the darker the green, the higher the level of vaccination.
Around 44 percent of the people in the E.U. are fully vaccinated. And this is despite a slow rollout. In the U.S., that number is closer to 50
percent. Look down in Africa, 1.5 percent of the total population has received the necessary doses.
The numbers tell half the story, but anecdotally, if you walk around, you see how real it is.
For instance, here in New York, the inequality is for anyone to see. Anyone who lives in New York can easily get a shot at multiple sites across the
city. Wherever you look, there is a sign showing that you can get a vaccination shot, even in railway stations, like Penn Station. Every
pharmacy now, there is vaccine coming out of your nostrils, there's so much of it here. Get your free vaccine today.
Now, compare this, Johannesburg, earlier this month, people queueing to get vaccinated as supplies remain scarce. You can't actually show a picture of
course of no vaccine, because there's nothing to show.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the Director General of the W.T.O., World Trade Organization. She joins me from Geneva. She joins me via Skype. Ngozi, we
will talk about the G-20 in a second.
Pfizer opening in Africa is welcome. It begs the question, what took them so long?
NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION: Well, very good to talk to you, Richard.
Let's say that we are all very happy with the Pfizer announcement, which came today. Actually, since it's now public, it was during a meeting here
at the W.T.O., where we assembled manufacturers that the announcement came.
I think that if you talk to manufacturers, they'll talk about the difficulties they've had with access to raw materials and supplies,
difficulties with supply chains, difficulties finding partners. These are some of the reasons they give. Vaccines are very difficult to manufacture.
You need to find quality partners.
But that being said, I think everyone -- this would have been good had it happened faster and sooner. Some vaccine companies like AstraZeneca and J&J
reached out earlier and established manufacturing partnerships in different parts of the developing world.
But anyway, Johnson & Johnson did that in South Africa with Aspen, so we are now happy that Pfizer is doing the same.
QUEST: The G20 is calling a high level panel calling for greater investment. You will forgive me if I didn't waste too much time reading
about the high level panel's recommendations because the G7 couldn't get to a billion doses and the G20 doesn't look like it is going to be able to
move the needle much further.
OKONJO-IWEALA: Well, the G20 Finance Ministers actually convened this high- level independent panel to look at how we finance the next pandemic, and I was the co-chair, along with Tharman Shanmugaratnam. the Senior Minister
and former Finance Minister of Singapore and Larry Summers, and we presented a report to the G-20 Finance Ministers meeting in Venice two
weekends -- last weekend actually, and this report talks about four major gaps in global pandemic preparedness and prevention.
The first is just a gap in global surveillance and research; second, un- resilient national systems; third, supply of medical countermeasures; and four, an absence of global governance.
And we recommend, one, that we should plug the hole in global governance by establishing a Global Health Threat Board. Second, we recommend $75 billion
over the next five years, $15 billion a year to finance the gaps, and of this $10 billion in a Global Health Threats Fund. That is $10 billion a
So, these are some of the measures just to make sure we can respond to the next pandemic. And Richard, for this pandemic, you know, let me say the
W.T.O., the I.M.F., the World Bank, and the W.H.O. have joined to support the call by the I.M.F. based on their study for $50 billion to be spent now
to vaccinate up to 40 percent of the world's population this year, 60 percent next year.
If we do that, we will be able to contain and manage this pandemic. And we will add another $9 trillion world GDP by 2025.
QUEST: Right. Director General, I hear your numbers, you want your $50 billion and you'll get your trillions of future production, but you're not
going to get that number. The difficulty we have at the moment is the rich countries have got all the vaccine, they're not giving enough money to help
the poorer countries. The debt relief in the Paris club, as you know only too well, is stalled.
So, I am trying desperately not to as pessimistic as I'm sounding, but it's not easy.
OKONJO-IWEALA: Richard, you're absolutely right. I mean the current inequity we see is not acceptable, by any stretch of the imagination.
I mean, the good news is 1.1 billion more doses were produced in June, 45 percent higher than May. The bad news is that of this amount, only 1.4
percent went to Africa and 0.24 percent to low-income countries. So, you're absolutely right.
However, there's a dawning on everyone, include rich countries, including manufacturers that it is in our own self-interest, it is in the self-
interest of rich countries to support poorer countries to get better access. So I'm hoping that this dawning will lead to changes.
QUEST: Let's talk about briefly, if we may, before I let you go, let's go to the more traditional work of the DG at the W.T.O. Any sign of any major
improvement in free trade agreements? Is anybody interested in talking about them at the moment?
OKONJO-IWEALA: Well, let me tell you what are people -- members are interested in and manufacturers of vaccines. The W.T.O. is really playing a
role in trying to make sure that we get access to vaccines and trying to make sure we boost production.
So, members and manufacturers are interested in free trade. Why? Because any blockage of supply chains means we cannot scale up production. So,
actually in the meeting we had today, there was a universal call for free trade, for free movement of goods and services with respect to vaccine
manufacturers. And the W.T.O. is playing a very strong role in that.
QUEST: Good to see you, Director General. As always, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
OKONJO-IWEALA: Thank you, Richard.
QUEST: Much of the discussion today around vaccine inequality came about as a result of CNN's Larry Madowo's article on cnn.com. He has personal
experience when it comes to vaccine inequality. His uncle in Kenya was unable to get vaccinated and died of COVID-19.
Now, Larry, much younger than his uncle, as many people are, are vaccinated at a U.S. pharmacy. Larry is with me now and I'll show you where you can
read the article.
Larry, you touched on a nerve is something I've noticed. I'm being slightly facetious here, but vaccine is everywhere. They're giving it away with
popcorn here in the United States. How difficult is it to get it where you are?
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Kenya and in many parts of Africa, Richard, finding a vaccine sort of is like digging for precious diamonds.
It is so hard to get because there is a limited supply, and even among African countries that can afford to pay for it, there's just not enough of
it that is available because high-income countries are hoarding vaccines. They've stockpiled more than they need.
The initial data shows that high-income countries have 350 percent of the vaccines they need, and the last time I looked at the data was maybe in
June, the U.K. had about eight vaccines per person; the E.U., 6.6; the U.S., five vaccines per person. Canada is even higher.
Here in Africa, South Sudan has run out of vaccines entirely. Uganda, Rwanda, Tunisia have had to introduce lockdowns because the health systems
are collapsing and the delta variant is surging through the continent, it has been found in 21 countries.
Where I am in Kenya, only 1.1 percent of people are vaccinated.
QUEST: Larry, I guess, I mean, the tragedy within your own family makes it very clear, the ease with which you were able to get vaccines versus any of
your relatives. Is there any sense -- you heard Ngozi just there talking about this. Is there any sense that things are going to get better?
MADOWO: I think things might get worse before they get for better. That's a reality. I was vaccinated all the way back in April because I was living in
Washington, D.C. and I got a vaccine at a CVS next door. There were so many more appointments available at Walgreens. The D.C. Health Department
emailed to say you can book an appointment.
Anybody over the age of 12 in the U.S. can get vaccinated. People are getting bribed with lotteries and cash and everything else just to get them
to protect themselves.
There are so many Africans who watch the resistance to vaccines in the West, in Europe, in America, and they say, "Can you give us those vaccines
you don't want?" Because they want to get back to their lives.
There is a pandemic fatigue all across the five countries I've been to in the last few weeks and they just can't understand why so many people have
vaccines in the West they don't need; and here, they keep hearing, we're in this together, but it just does not look like it from where I'm sitting,
because my own grandmother has been on a ventilator for five to six weeks now, and every time I see a call from home, Richard, I'm afraid they might
be ringing to say that she is gone.
QUEST: God be with her as she gets better and stronger. And you take all our thoughts and prayers with you, Larry, because -- I'll talk more about
it in our profitable moment at the end of the program. Larry, thank you.
You can read Larry's article on our website. It's cnn.com/africa. It's one of the most read stories of the day and rightly so.
It is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. We turn to the Olympics and a different kind of Olympics will get underway on Friday.
The opening ceremonies are expected to be sobering and they are being broadcast live in the U.S. through the early morning, and that's going to
happen -- it is the first time that's happened in the U.S. We'll explain in a moment.
QUEST: We are less than 40 hours before the Olympic opening ceremony. It's going to be a scaled down affair, we're told. Sobering is how it is being
described by one adviser who told Reuters it would match what is called the sentiment of today, the reality.
By one estimate, not having Japanese fans in attendance at the Games will cost the nation's economy $1.3 billion in losses.
A top Japanese chief executive told us that the company is bracing for enormous economic losses.
CNN's Selina Wang is with me again. Congratulations, middle of the night, much appreciated that you are staying up late to talk to us.
You are with me from Tokyo. All right, they are going to open and let The Games begin. I guess we now have to make the best of it, but corporate
executives are not happy.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are not at all, Richard, and it is always great to be with you no matter what time of the day, and when it
comes to this interview that I had with the Suntory CEO, his words matter.
He is the CEO of the one of the biggest beverage companies in Japan. He is an economic adviser to the Prime Minister, and he told me that he thinks
the Olympics are losing its commercial value. That they should have been postponed again, considering the pandemic situation and the fact that just
20 percent of the people in Japan are fully vaccinated.
So right now, for these businesses and companies in Japan, for many of them, silence is the best strategy when it comes to The Olympics.
WANG (voice over): The Olympics, normally a golden opportunity to boost corporate image. But this year, the fear is brand damage, because of
intense opposition to The Games in japan. After Japanese sponsors spent a record of more than $3 billion to be associated with the five rings, COVID-
19 cases are surging, spectators largely banned, while the Japanese public, just 20 percent of them fully vaccinated are urged to stay at home during
Sponsor plans are falling flat.
WANG (on camera): I'm at the top of Tokyo's Skytree, the world's tallest broadcasting tower. It's one of the Japanese Olympic sponsors that have had
to cancel or scale back promotional events tied to The Games.
"We were planning to holding events to boost the move for the Olympics, but because of COVID, it is not the right time to hold a festival," he tells
me. "We've canceled events, a viewing site, and torch relay through our viewing spot."
Toyota, a top Olympic sponsor is not airing Olympic-related TV commercials. The editorial board of another sponsor, "Asahi Shimbun" newspaper called
for a cancellation in May.
There is little Olympic spirit in the host city. Tokyo is in a state of emergency and alcohol is banned from restaurants. The CEO of Suntory, one
of Japan's biggest beverage makers says the economic loss from no spectators will be enormous.
TAKESHI NIINAMI, CEO, SUNTORY: I had expected that a lot of spectators from abroad to visit restaurants and bars, where they sell our products and
promote our brands. We had a plan to open more than a couple of the bars and restaurants, only for our products, sponsored by us. But we cancelled
WANG (on camera): Do you think that these Games could still boost international businesses for Japanese companies?
NIINAMI: More and more, I don't think so. I think The Olympics have been losing its value
WANG: Do you think The Games should have been postponed?
NIINAMI: Considering the current rollout of vaccines in this country, two months from now should be the ideal timing
WANG (voice over): According to Robert Maes, a sports marketing executive in Japan, several local sponsors were pushing for The Olympics to be
ROBERT MAES, SPORTS MARKETING EXECUTIVE: The sponsors are paying a lot of money, but basically, the return is extremely limited. You have got the
five rings and then you have what used to be attached as positive with The Olympics, which is the spirit of sport, the pleasure, the youth, the
sparkling ideas of sports. But that is all gone now.
WANG (voice over): But sponsor Asics is staying optimistic. It's the official outfitter for the Japanese Olympic team and volunteers, opening
this experience center in Central Tokyo, showing its designs all the way pack to the 1964 Tokyo Games.
"Although there will be no spectators in The Games, we are sure that many people will experience the atmosphere of The Olympics through media-like
TV," he says.
Some experts say it is too early to say how brands will be impacted.
MICHAEL PAYNE, FORMER IOC MARKETING DIRECTOR: There is no point in sugarcoating. You know, this is not an ideal situation. Have sponsors been
able to get their short-term marketing gain? No. Will they be able to get a long-term marketing gain? Still possible.
WANG (voice over): And all of that depends on will whether The Games are held safely without turning into a super spreader event.
WANG (on camera): And Richard, another big blow for these Japanese companies is that Tokyo is still in a state of emergency. Alcohol is banned
from being served in restaurants, so all of that has a dampening effect on companies like Suntory.
QUEST: Selina, how does it feel there? What does it actually -- as you go around -- I mean, I remember being in London just before the Olympics there
and there was an excitement, a verve, an energy. What does it actually feel like in Tokyo at the moment?
WANG: Richard, I mean, I've been talking to residents for months now and here in Japan, there was never that sort of Olympic spirit that you would
expect in a host nation, because of the pandemic. And I was just speaking to residents earlier today, because I've been camped out, outside of this
National Stadium here, and they have a lot of mixed feelings.
Many of them said that while they are potentially excited to watch it on TV, they are worried about the COVID-19 situation, as you see more of these
cases in Japan linked to these Olympic Games. There's also a lot of opposition. They think that during a pandemic, it's not the right time to
be celebrating, and more of these resources should be put towards COVID-19 and getting more people in Japan vaccinated. Just 20 percent of the
population here is fully vaccinated.
And there's a lot of frustration and a lot of questions, Richard, about why are these Games being held? Why are they going ahead at this point in time?
QUEST: Selina Wang who is in Tokyo. We're grateful that you stayed up late. Thank you.
The French Prime Minister, Jean Castex says increased rates of vaccinations in France lately are down to the President. Apparently, since Emmanuel
Macron announced measures that would cut access to restaurants and other venues to the unvaccinated, and that takes place from today, and so around
4.3 million French people have signed up to get one. The Prime Minister says more than three million of those were additional bookings.
CNN's Jim Bittermann in Paris on the drive to vaccinate by refusing to allow.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard, it looks like this is going to become a fixture in our lives here in France. It's a
Health Pass. I printed mine out, but you can download it on your smartphone or other device, and it certifies that a person has been vaccinated and/or
tested negative for COVID.
As of today, it is required for entry into practically any location where more than 50 people are likely to gather, museums, cinemas, theaters and
even some places of worship. But in the coming weeks, the Pass is going to become essential for access to restaurants, cafes, bars, and perhaps even
For tourists or those who can't download the pass, testing sites have been set up near popular destinations like the Eiffel Tower. There's been some
pushback for those against vaccinations and the exact rules could change somewhat during the Parliamentary debates this week.
But the general idea seems likely to win a Parliamentary approval, perhaps because the French seem to be responding.
BITTERMANN: Since President Emmanuel Macron made his Health Pass announcement on July 12th, about 4.3 million people have signed up for
vaccination appointments -- Richard.
QUEST: Jim Bittermann, thank you, in Paris.
The delta variant is becoming the dominant strain around the world and new research suggests that this is a unique strategy to evade antibodies. We'll
discuss that in a moment.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
QUEST: Breaking News at CNN. The United States says it has reached a deal with Germany that would allow the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be completed.
The U.S. State Department remains opposed to the pipeline, but concluded sanctions would be ineffective to stopping it.
Now, the U.S. says Germany is committed to taking swift action against Russian aggression.
Kylie Atwood is with me. All right, so essentially, essentially, Kylie, the U.S. realized that they were not in a position to actually prevent Germany
from proceeding with this. So, it's a sort of a compromise, as I understand it?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I think that's right. I think the Biden administration has been very clear that they found
themselves in a position where they weren't really able to do much to mitigate this project from being completed.
They reiterated multiple times that it was 90 percent complete when they came into office, even though they fundamentally opposed the project and
recognized that Russia could use it to abuse European energy security, and of course, to potentially harm Ukraine.
So what the Biden administration did over the last few weeks and few months was to work with Germany as to how they could really make sure that this
Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline isn't used to Russia's advantage to harm energy security in Europe and to harm Ukraine.
And so this is what the Biden administration announced today. A number of actions that the U.S. and Germany are going to back, to essentially provide
some support to Ukraine.
One of the things that they are going to be doing is funding a green fund for Ukraine to invest in alternative energy sources, essentially looking
forward, to hope that they are a country that can benefit from renewable energy and have the resources to really dig in there on the front end.
There's a number of other things that they're going to be working on with Germany. But the bottom line is that this agreement, today, essentially
makes it very clear that this pipeline is going to be completed. It's more than 95 percent completed today.
QUEST: Kylie, thank you. I appreciate it.
It's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, live from New York.
Stored, parked, cut up, donated: the options that are being used for the unused IAG planes. An exclusive tour of Iberia's aircraft maintenance
hangar in Madrid.
QUEST: The Delta variant is fueling a new COVID wave around the world. Indonesia has reported nearly 1,400 deaths from COVID on Wednesday. That's
a record high. As the World Health Organization is warning, the Delta variant has spread to nearly 125 countries and accounts for more than 75
percent of cases.
In places like Britain, China, Israel and the U.S. The "Financial Times" is reporting a new study that suggests that Delta has a unique strategy to
evade antibodies. Adrian Hill at the University of Oxford Jenner Institute is with me.
I read the "FT" article and sort of got the gist of the idea that it's sort of like other infections, which sort of the bursting of the cells. I didn't
quite follow it all.
I don't think I need to understand it, the wheres and the why-fors. I need you to tell me whether this is a more serious deterioration and threat to
our existing vaccinated state.
ADRIAN HILL, DIRECTOR OF JENNER INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD: There are two things we worry about with a new strain.
Is it more virulent?
Will it be more likely to kill you if you get infected by it?
And there the evidence is fairly reassuring. Delta doesn't seem to be more lethal than other strains. But it is much more transmissible than the
strains we've seen before. So you're more likely to pass it on to other people.
But from a vaccine standpoint, there's now quite a lot of data looking at how well our existing licensed vaccines work against Delta. And there the
news is fairly good.
So with a study of the AstraZeneca vaccine, for example, in the U.K., after two doses, the efficacy was 92 percent. After one dose, it was less good;
maybe 20 percent less. So if we can get everyone vaccinated with two doses, the problem should be controllable.
And that's the current strategy, to actually accelerate what was a 12-week interval between doses to a 4- or 8-week interval.
QUEST: But -- so we're playing a numbers game to a large extent with people's lives, at the rate at which it will transmit versus how bad the
effect will be.
And I wonder, is it just a question of time before a variant comes along that does defeat the vaccine?
HILL: Probably not, based on what we've seen so far. So we've had well over a year of this virus evolving in vast numbers of people. And what's really
interesting is that, globally, as you've just said, this has become the predominant variant.
In the U.K., it's not 75 percent; it's 90-something percent. So from a vaccine point of view, what might be convenient actually is, if this is the
final variant. It's the most transmissible; no other variant like the ones we've had before, say, from South Africa, can get a look in.
And we end up with mainly the Delta variant worldwide. That could make it more straightforward to optimize vaccines to deal with this variant.
QUEST: Can I wind you back to your first part of your answer, where we talked about the virulence of it?
And of course, if you're vaccinated, then you are less likely, considerably less likely, to catch it, let alone have it long-term or you'd have no
major effect. But long COVID, something of which I have suffered and suffered quite badly last year, if we take long COVID -- so for argument's
sake, firstly, the unvaccinated who get Delta variant.
They obviously are at full throttle risk.
But the vaccinated who get it a second time, what's the long COVID prognosis?
HILL: It's very variable and it does appear to depend on how severe an illness you had to start with. So if you had a mild cough and nothing else,
you're much less likely to get long COVID than if you ended up in the hospital.
So again, the strategy with vaccines is to knock down that initial infection, so that you only get a mild infection. You don't go into
hospital, you certainly don't die. And that should have an impact on long COVID.
But to be frank, we don't have enough data using that as an endpoint. It wasn't there in most clinical trials. And we need to gather more
And one of the risks with the strategies that are being adopted now to prevent hospitalization and let other people become infected is, firstly,
you may get more long COVID-19. But we don't actually really know the outcome, because there aren't enough.
QUEST: Right. I do want to finish, just by getting your perspective on the vaccine inequality that we have today. Pfizer is opening or building and
developing a plant. And I can't see a way in which we don't end up, if we haven't already, with two worlds.
HILL: We already have multiple worlds, from the very poorest country with hardly any vaccine to rich countries with more vaccine than they can use
and need to export it. This is a failure. We need to do something about that.
We saw it coming. The WHO has been bemoaning this for many months. They can't enforce distribution that is more equitable. We need for the next
pandemic to have some system in place; otherwise, it's going to happen again and more people are going to die.
QUEST: Adrian, thank you for joining us on that.
Just what Adrian was saying, was the significance of Ngozi on the program this morning a while ago, with the high-level panel looking at the next
There is some method to the madness of how we put this together.
QUEST: People in subsaharan Africa are now expected to use a lot more cell phone data in the next five years. Eleni Giokos has been speak to the head
of one of Africa's biggest telcos on this growing market. It is, of course, "CONNECTING AFRICA."
ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT: I want you to take me back to when you were thinking about Mara phones and bringing manufacturing capacity on
the continent. And you're basically starting from scratch.
What does it take to build that kind of capacity from zero?
ASHISH THAKKAR: It was a tough and long journey, because putting up assembly is a lot easier and it's a lot simpler. But in the true sense,
that's not shifting the narrative for our continent. it's not making us a high-tech, high-precision manufacturing destination like you and I would
like and many others would like.
At the same time, when you think about why is that not happening, there's a psychological block about, is it because of human capital?
And that's wrong, because there's loads of amazing electricians and electrical engineers and people who are hungry to learn.
GIOKOS: Do you think we'll go to a point where it will be made in Africa and Africa can control a large part of global manufacturing capacity, where
it will be respected, like what we've seen coming through from Asia?
THAKKAR: That's a really good point and I think, absolutely, eventually, yes. But I think there's a transition to that. And the baby steps are that,
firstly, we're such huge consumers as a continent. When you think about over 1 billion people. We've got the Africa continental free trade area
now, making us one market in the true sense.
GIOKOS: To what extent do you think we can truly meet up to that expectation of digitalizing Africa if we don't actually put a smartphone, a
smartphone in the hands of people, even in the most remote areas of the continent?
THAKKAR: We need to truly transition people. And frankly, networks are there, everything is there, the key element has been affordability and
quality. You can get really cheap phones but they won't last and that doesn't help.
GIOKOS: As much as we want to digitize, we still need the infrastructure.
Are you feeling optimistic we can get that done?
And what does it really take?
Even though you're in the tech space and you're in digitization, you still needed to build a factory.
THAKKAR: When Mara did this, we didn't do it with the intention of making a quick buck. Of course, we're in it for the long run and we're in it to
create a huge amount of value.
But practically, we did it to shift the narrative that we, as Africa, can do this and can do it without compromising, without cutting corners,
without kind of doing it piecemeal. If we do it, we do it properly and it's possible.
QUEST: As we continue together tonight, United Airlines made a large, big bet on electric airplanes to help achieve its emissions target. The CEO of
the electric planemaker Heart Aerospace about that deal, the plane and, most crucially, will it fly?
After the break.
QUEST: Good news. Travel stocks are soaring on strong earnings and optimistic outlook from United Airlines. The company last week announced
plans to buy a hundred electric planes from the startup Heart Aerospace.
United wants to get the planes in the air by 2026 and use them on regional routes in the U.S., 19 passengers. One of those routes, for instance, San
Francisco airport to Modesto County airport in California. You get the idea.
On a Heart plane, 19 passengers producing zero emissions. Well, any other plane with 19 passengers would give out much larger carbon dioxide and
would be commercially viable in cases.
Anders Forslund is the founder and CEO of Heart Aerospace and joins me from Sweden. United puts a bit of money, as have others, Gates, others, have put
money into the company on a hope more than a prayer that you will be able to build your plane and have it flying.
When will it fly?
ANDERS FORSLUND, CEO, HEART AEROSPACE: The first flights of the aircraft will be in 2024 but it's in 2026 that we will first be in commercial
QUEST: Right. And at 19 seats, you've created an aircraft designed for a specific, very -- I was going to say niche. But you know, we've seen with
things like the ATRs and the Q-400s and we had the Embraers, all at 100 seats, whatever.
Then it pushed up to the 220. You're basically pushing all of that aside and saying, now, we're right down at this end.
FORSLUND: Yes, exactly. So you don't have to go back very far, only a few decades and there were hundreds of 19-seaters across America serving
hundreds of communities that have since passed service.
And they stopped flying those because they were uneconomic, that the economic equation didn't work. And by going electric, not only do you
create a green aircraft but a very affordable aircraft, both for airlines and consumers.
QUEST: I assume the saving is in the fuel, in that sense. And I'm assuming that to recharge the batteries or however you do it isn't as expensive as
it would cost, because one of the problems with many electric vehicles is actually, when you work it out, the cost of recharging the electricity to
it is almost as much as it would cost; it's just diffused in a different way.
FORSLUND: Yes, actually, the big difference is you're replacing the jet engine, which is the most expensive part of the aircraft, both to buy and
maintain, with an electric motor that essentially only has one moving part.
So you're seeing this orders of magnitudes difference in this. That's why jet engines never made sense on small aircrafts, it never made sense on
short routes. Electric motors do.
QUEST: Do you think you might have a psychological issue with flyers, who will be reluctant to get on a plane powered by electricity or a motor that
they can't hear spooling up and spooling down?
People will think, hang on, what if the power goes out?
FORSLUND: There are actually certified electric aircraft already today. But they're two-seater aircraft and I've flown those. And I think it's a very
comforting feeling to get rid of all of that noise and that vibration.
And as for safety, we're building a certified aircraft. Air travel is the safest mode of travel, because we have to go through a rigorous process
before you get to sit in one of these things.
QUEST: It's a brilliant process you're doing and hats off to United for getting into it.
But what do you think is the -- how far are we off from an electric engine that could power a wide-bodied jet to commercial success?
FORSLUND: I think that's not really what we're targeting and it will be a long while before electric aircraft cross the Atlantic, if ever. But this
is not really the aim of the company or of electric aircraft. It's to take those short haul routes, which are actually one-third of the aviation
emissions, and replacing them with electric.
QUEST: Anders, I congratulate this and I look forward to coming and see and traveling and be there at the maiden flight.
QUEST: It will be exciting.
FORSLUND: Yes. Come over here and we'll let you pull the throttle lever for this one.
QUEST: Oh, oh, you know how to entice me. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.
QUEST: Let's stay with aviation and in Spain. Iberia, the Spanish airlines preparing for the busiest rest of the year. Iberia's retooling planes that
had been grounded during the pandemic and bidding farewell to it's A340- 600s.
But what to do with those, oh, so many planes?
Well, Iberia, Level and Vueling all part of the IAG umbrella and Iberia's chief technical officer gave me an exclusive tour of the aircraft
maintenance hangar in Madrid.
QUEST: Level, which was a small operational airline within IAG, has disappeared but the planes are now being repurposed in the fleet.
ANDY BEST, CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER, IBERIA: Absolutely. So where you've taken them from level one, their own AFC, they've now transferred to the
Vueling air operating certificate and they will then operate within the Vueling fleet, flown by their own pilots and crew.
QUEST: All right, this was a Level plane.
QUEST: Level has bitten the dust and is now a Vueling.
So you've kept the tail but not the -- tell me.
BEST: The speed of operation, we needed to bring these aircraft back into operation quickly. So the time to paint the tail, which means we would have
to fly it to a specialist paint company, takes time. And Vueling wanted the aircraft quickly, so the opportunity we took was to re-brand them with
Vueling on the front, operate them like this for one summer season and next winter we'll paint them.
QUEST: So we have here examples of the group. The main line, Iberia; you've got Iberia Express, we've got Vueling over here.
So you're looking after them all?
BEST: We look after all of group aircraft here. We have British Airways that come here, we have Vueling Express and Iberia. It's -- and this
facility you're in here, hangar six, this can take 10 narrow-bodied aircraft, full-based maintenance activity.
We have back shops availability over the road and inside this hangar that covers all structural repairs or the composite repairs, any hydraulics,
pipes, anything that you would possibly need to cover that level of check, we can do inhouse here.
This Laminiota's (ph) main base. And here you see now we have a lot of aircraft in the parking and storage conditions. As the fleets haven't been
flying, we've opened up a new product that these aircraft come, we put them into parking. You see the ones here with the cellophane over the legs,
they're under storage conditions, while the other are under parking conditions.
QUEST: The difference between parking and storage?
BEST: The ones in storage, we drain some of the oils out of it. The aircraft are fully blanked over and sealed, where the other ones, we fire
them up on a regular weekly basis and operate them.
QUEST: How quickly are you losing planes from here and going back into service?
BEST: Luckily, it's really ramping up now. We come into the summer season, we get more and more back. Some of these are now in longer term storage.
These ones will go back. So the Vueling will go into support, will leave. The Scandinavian aircraft, we've got here because they're part of a program
we've got for base maintenance.
They will join those in the hangar, carry out base maintenance and then back into the line.
QUEST: Over here. Look at this. This is a 340.
What is it, 340 ... ?
QUEST: -- 600. So this is the long one?
BEST: It is.
QUEST: This is the longest one where -- it's of the longest planes in the world.
BEST: Center leg, everything is there. This is -- obviously what we did and all of these aircraft now are out of operation. So the 600, the 340 is out
of operation. We won't fly this again.
So what you're seeing here now, they're removing one of the engines. And that -- we're going to donate these engines to local training
establishments. So this engine now will go to a local university for the engineers of the future to understand how these things work.
QUEST: And what will happen to the plane?
BEST: The plane will be cut up, I'm afraid. So here, over the coming weeks, in this facility down here, an external agency company will come in and
will remove the aircraft from this situation and cut it up.
QUEST: So it will be done here.
BEST: It will be done here. It won't -- we can't fly this aircraft out again. The engines are off. It will be here, we'll chop it up and then it
QUEST: But you have had to -- you have been able to fly others off, too?
BEST: Yes, sure. Some of the aircraft that we got, some of the bigger aircraft, 340s and 330s that we're not flying at the moment, they're stored
in other locations as well.
QUEST: If somebody had said to you a couple of years ago, Andy, that fleet of 340s that we're actually flying every day, we're now going to get rid of
them all in one go and we're going to chop them up.
BEST: Yes, that wouldn't have been something that we had in our strategy or something that we thought we would do. Clearly, we had a program designed
with the 350 introduction that these aircraft would phase out.
But they clearly were still in our program for a number of years to come. But the situation is unique, as we all know, not just in the airline
QUEST: It's extraordinary. There's nothing wrong with it.
QUEST: It's uneconomic, I'll grant you. It's uneconomic. It's aged a bit. But it's nothing wrong with it.
BEST: It's -- a lot of people have got a lot of affiliation to these aircraft but, unfortunately, for our fleet and our operation, it's not the
right aircraft at the right time.
QUEST: That says it all. They're not the only ones, of course. Look at all the airlines around the world that have literally got rid of major parts of
their fleet on otherwise perfectly decent and accessible aircraft.
Look at the market. Last few minutes of trade on Wall Street. A day of green for the Dow. It's pretty consistent all day. It's up there and it has
stayed there along the Dow 30. Half a dozen laggards to end the session lower. Actually, it's not the usual suspect, all with their own individual
The losses are small, the gainers are heavy. We will have our profitable moment after the break.
QUEST: Tonight's profitable moment: I don't think anybody watching this show comes to us with sort of rose-colored spectacles and believe that the
world is fair. But the vaccine inequality that we have reported on tonight is an obscene example of the haves versus the have-nots and a situation
that's getting worse.
When I vaccinated back in the beginning of April, it was one of the large vaccination sites, the Javits Center here in New York. Now those centers
are closing. The pharmacies have got vaccines just about everywhere. It is flowing down the streets, if you will.
At the same time, our correspondent in Nairobi is reporting that there's no vaccines in Sudan; people are waiting elsewhere. The discrepancy between
the two is unconscionable. Unacceptable is how Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the head of the WTO, put it on our program tonight.
The real problem I've got with this is we all know it. The G7 knew it and couldn't even get a billion doses. The G20 knows it.
But will they come up with the 50 billion they're looking for?
This is a test of what results mean, not what promises are made.
And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest in New York. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. Good day
on the market. The Dow is up.