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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 7 July, 2020
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Trump calls for Air Force One to cancel contract with Boeing

He did so on Twitter, of course.

US PRESIDENT-ELECT Donald Trump has demanded the government cancel a multibillion dollar order for new presidential planes.

Trump’s tweet about Air Force One caused manufacturer Boeing’s stock to drop temporarily and raised fresh questions about how his administration — and tweets — could affect the economy.

“The plane is totally out of control,” Trump told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower.

“I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.” Earlier he had tweeted that the deal’s costs were “out of control”.

The government has contracted with Boeing to build two new planes which would go into service around 2024. That means Trump might never fly on the aircraft, which carry US presidents around the globe.

The Air Force has pressed for a faster schedule, saying the aging current Boeing 747s are becoming too expensive to repair and keep in good flying shape. The contract for developing and building new planes was to be about $3 billion (about €2.8 billion), but costs are reported to be rising.

don Source: Evan Vucci AP/Press Association Images

The General Accountability Office estimated in March that about $2 billion (about €1.8 billion) of the total — for work between 2010 and 2020 — was for research and development, not the actual planes. The inflated $4 billion (about €3.7 billion) figure Trump cited appears to include operation and maintenance as well.

Trump’s tweet came 22 minutes after The Chicago Tribune posted a story in which the Boeing CEO voiced concerns about Trump’s views on trade.

The president-elect then descended to the lobby of the Manhattan skyscraper that bears his name to reiterate his case.

His own 757

Trump had tweeted in 2013 that he owned Boeing stock, but a spokesman today said he sold all of his stock holdings in June. That sale was not publicised by the campaign at the time, and aides did not reveal how much cash it might have generated.

If Trump had held onto his stock portfolio, he would have been required to repeatedly file reports with the US Office of Government Ethics. A 2012 update of the Ethics in Government Act obliges presidents and other senior government officials to report such transactions.

Boeing responded to Trump in a statement, saying:

We are currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the president of the United States. We look forward to working with the US Air Force on subsequent phases of the programme allowing us to deliver the best planes for the president at the best value for the American taxpayer.

The $170 million (about €158 million) figure is just for a portion of the research and development efforts.

Trump now uses his own plane, a Boeing 757, which he has outfitted with white leather and gold, a large flat-screen television and a bedroom. But as president it is expected that he will travel aboard the Air Force jet, which is equipped with special safety, defensive and communications equipment. Air Force One also has seating for reporters; Trump generally does not allow the press on his own plane.

Trump will tonight use his own 757 to travel to the second stop of his post-election ‘thank you’ tour in North Carolina.

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Associated Press

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