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America's New War: Thomas Nulty Discusses How Hijackings Adversely Affecting Airline Industry

Aired September 18, 2001 - 00:20   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: That's a live shot of ground zero. Ellie, throw that back up again, just for a second if you would. I was reading today where the people searching the area down there removed I think 23,000 tons of debris. Now that's a lot, 23,000 tons. There is 1,250,000 give or take a few tons of wreckage down there. And the list of the missing went over 5000.

Our next guest runs a very large travel company that caters primarily to business. Thomas Nulty is the chief operating officer and president of a company called Navigant, and he joins us tonight to talk about a lot of things, not the least of which is I would guess the impact of all of this on your firm.

People are not flying. The airlines aren't flying. They're canceling routes. They're laying off people. Continental 12,000, Midway suspending operations. There were more layoffs announced today. The stock prices of all of these big companies just got hammered today.

What's all of this doing to your firm and to your firm's employees and the line?

THOMAS NULTY, COO & PRESIDENT; NAVIGANT INTL.: Well you know, it's obviously having an impact on us just like it's having an impact on the airlines. We're tied very closely to them. It's really how long is this impact going to last? And can we convince investors and others that these airlines and travel companies like mine are viable entities and we think we can.

We spent the day today surveying several hundred of our top customers to really find out from them, you know what are they going to do about travel? Because travel is an essential part of doing business. And is one of the things that make companies successful. Their ability to conduct commerce across the United States, around the globe, with other people sell their products and services. And these customers told us that they aren't traveling much this week. And they're probably not going to travel much next week. But starting after that period, assuming there are no other incidents where they're going to start seeing them start coming back, probably not to full levels. But they were telling us that by January they should be back at the full levels if not beyond where they had been in the past.

CAFFERTY: You know one of the early announcements about strengthening the airlines in this country had to do with eliminating curb side check in. And it almost brought a laugh out loud response from people as being strictly a ceremonial move for want of a better way to describe it. But today some stuff that has a little more teeth in it was announced. Attorney General John Ashcroft saying that soon armed sky marshals will be aboard America's passenger planes. And who'd ever thought we'd have seen a situation like that. But EL-AL hasn't had any airplanes hijacked lately. That's the Israeli airline. And one of the reasons the experts say is that they'll have armed sky marshals aboard.

Consumer confidence it would seem to me is paramount to restoring the air travel industry. You've got to get people whether or not afraid to go buy a tick and get on a plane, is this going to help?

NULTY: You know it will help. And believe it or not we've had sky marshals before in the early 1970s when hijacking actually started.

CAFFERTY: That's right.

NULTY: That was really the government's first response.

CAFFERTY: I remember that.

NULTY: Seven forty-sevens has three or four guys on there under cover carrying weapons. And all of the narrow bodied airplanes had two sky marshals on them. So this is not something new. I think it's a great idea. I thin it has to be done. I think some things have to be done to secure the doors of the aircraft. There's talk of putting cameras on board so the pilots can see what's going on.

You know I've been out there traveling just about every day since the airline started service again.

CAFFERTY: You flew today, didn't you?

NULTY: I flew today. And in fact, had a very interesting thing happen today on my flight. I had the captain come out to United Airlines captain, step out into the cabin and talk without the microphone to all of the passengers about security and things he was going to do. And the fact that he had been flying big airplanes since 1970. And that he was not concerned. But he was going to do everything possible to check their safety.

But one thing that was interesting was that he also told people that the lavatories closest to the cockpit were going to be out of service during the flight. That people weren't to use those. I found that interesting. I also found it interesting, as a frequent traveler I get upgraded every once in a while. And I found that the flatware has disappeared. It's now plastic forks and knives.

CAFFERTY: All right. I want to talk some more with you in a couple of minutes about the mood of the other passengers and the sense you got in the airports. Let's take a phone call. Phil in Arkansas good evening.

PHIL: Hello. First, thank you CNN for being here for us.

CAFFERTY: You're welcome.

PHIL: I just have a comment, then I'll hang up and listen to the answer. There's a lot of Americans, I've been watching TV all week and wondering what we should do to these terrorists. Well last night I decided to get back to work like the President said, and let the President take care of that and do something positive instead.

So the plan -- I'd like to give my $300 tax rebate check to start a fund to rebuild America's twin towers. It should be public owned memorials with all future profits coming back into the treasury to pay down the debt or social security whatever. Lastly, I'd like to put American flags on them so big you'll be able to see them all the way to Afghanistan. Thank you.

CAFFERTY: I think that's just a hell of an idea. Pardon my language. Phil, thank you. I don't know who you'd send the check to. Maybe hold on to it until -- no doubt there will be some sort of memorial effort undertaken but maybe it's a bit too soon.

We have to do a station break. You're watching CNN Hotline. I'm Jack Cafferty. We're coming to you from New York City the scene of the biggest attack on the American soil by foreign advisories in more than 100 years. Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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