Cost of two new Boe­ing plans – due in 2024 – soars from $3B to $4B

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jonathan Lemire

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, a po­lit­i­cal new­comer who touts his cor­po­rate skills, turned busi­ness­man-in-chief Tues­day, first de­mand­ing the gov­ern­ment can­cel a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar or­der for new pres­i­den­tial planes then hail­ing a Ja­panese com­pany’s com­mit­ment to in­vest bil­lions in the U.S.

Six weeks be­fore tak­ing of­fice, Trump is tele­graph­ing that he’ll take an in­ter­ven­tion­ist role in the na­tion’s econ­omy — as well as play show­man when he sees a chance. The celebrity busi­ness­man’s dec­la­ra­tion about Air Force One caused man­u­fac­turer Boe­ing’s stock to drop tem­po­rar­ily and raised fresh ques­tions about how his ad­min­is­tra­tion — not to men­tion his Twit­ter vol­leys — 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, more than $4 bil­lion. Can­cel or­der!”

Not long af­ter his first ap­pear­ance, Trump re­turned to the lobby with Masayoshi Son, the CEO of SoftBank, a mas­sive telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany that counts Sprint among its hold­ings. Trump pointed proudly to Son’s com­mit­ment to in­vest $50 bil­lion in the United States, which Trump said could cre­ate 50,000 jobs.

Trump — who also tweeted the deal — shook Son’s hand and posed for pho­tos, rev­el­ing as he had last week when he toured a Car­rier plant in In­di­ana where he said he had in­sti­gated an agree­ment that will pre­serve about 1,000 jobs the ap­pli­ance maker had planned to move to Mex­ico.

As for Air Force One, the gov­ern­ment has agreed that Boe­ing will build two new planes, which would go into ser­vice around 2024. That means Trump might never fly on the air­craft, which carry U.S. 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 over­all deal for re­search­ing, de­vel­op­ing and build­ing new planes was to be about $3 bil­lion, but costs have been re­ported to be ris­ing.

The Gen­eral Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice es­ti­mated in March that about $2 bil­lion of the to­tal — for work be­tween 2010 and 2020 — was for re­search and de­vel­op­ment on com­plex sys­tems, not for build­ing the ac­tual air­craft. The in­flated $4 bil­lion fig­ure Trump cited ap­pears to in­clude op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance as well.

Boe­ing re­sponded to Trump Tues­day in a state­ment: “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 U.S. Air Force on sub­se­quent phases of the pro­gram al­low­ing us to de­liver the best planes for the pres­i­dent at the best value for the Amer­i­can tax­payer.”

The $170 mil­lion fig­ure is just for a por­tion of the re­search and de­vel­op­ment ef­forts.

Trump be­gan his on­slaught against Boe­ing at 8:52 a.m., tweet­ing “Boe­ing is build­ing a brand new 747 Air Force One for fu­ture pres­i­dents, but costs are out of con­trol, more than $4 bil­lion. Can­cel or­der!”

That 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.

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 would 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.

Mil­i­tary per­son­nel salute as Air Force One leaves An­drews Air Force Base, in Mary­land. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump wants the con­tract for two new Air Force One planes can­celed. Jose Luis Magana, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.