Bill Marriott Jr., chairman & CEO of Marriott International

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, September 25, 2001.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, you know, those layoffs in the airline industry are now topping 100,000, as we've been reporting. That means that the situation for a lot of them has gone from bad to worse, especially for the lodging and tourism industries that depend on air travel.

Joining us now with an inside look, a guy who knows a thing or two about it, Bill Marriott Jr., the chairman and CEO of Marriott International.

Bill, good to have you back.


MARRIOTT: They're pretty empty, but they're doing better. This week, we've seen an increase in reservations. Since the tragedy in New York, this is obviously the best week we've had, but we're still far below normal.

CAVUTO: What is normal and what is now?

MARRIOTT: Oh, I'd say this time of year is in the high 80 percent occupancy range, and right now we're probably running in the 50s...

CAVUTO: What do...

MARRIOTT: ... 45 to 50 percent maybe.

CAVUTO: OK, I apologize. What do you make, Bill, of the airline rescue package?

MARRIOTT: Well, I think that they absolutely had to do what they had to do, to put cash into the pockets of the airlines. The airlines must survive. If they don't, our whole economy is going to really fall into serious, serious trouble. The airline is essential to the economy of this country and the economy of the world.

We are a country that runs on transportation: have since the sailing ships and trains, and today air transportation is extremely vital to this, economic viability of the United States.

CAVUTO: The argument for giving the airline industry the money and not other industries that might be suffering just as much, yours for example, is that, this trickle-down theory: that, as you say, transportation is a vital link. It does well, you do well. Do you buy that?

MARRIOTT: Absolutely. If the airlines do very well, we will do well, too. It's going to take a while, though, for people to regain confidence to fly. And one of the things we've got to do right here in my hometown in Washington is get Reagan National Airport opened back up again.

CAVUTO: Yeah, what if they don't do that? There's some speculation that they might not.

MARRIOTT: I can't believe that they won't do that. I just can't imagine that Congress and the administration would not just do everything they could to open this airport, because as long as it stays closed, it sends a very bad signal that this is not a safe country to fly in.

CAVUTO: So you think longer term the air traffic comes back, but will you ever feel tempted to go to this president and say, look, you gave money to the airline industry, how about me too?

MARRIOTT: Well, I think there's a move afoot in the lodging industry to get some sort of incentive for people to travel. We would like to see some kind of a tax credit possibly for corporations and for individuals who are willing to fly on an airplane, spend a night in a hotel, and get away from home.

We've got to get back into business, we've got to get out and see our customers in business: 25 percent of the top 1,000 companies in America, I understand, have travel restrictions on their people saying they can't go anywhere, and this is going to come back to severely harm our economy in more ways than one.

CAVUTO: All right, Bill, thank you very much. Good having you.

MARRIOTT: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: Bill Marriott, J.W. Marriott Jr. more formally, the chairman and CEO of Marriott International in Washington.

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