President-elect Donald Trump urged the government on Tuesday to cancel an order with Boeing Co for a revamped Air Force One, one of the most prominent symbols of the U.S. presidency, saying costs were out of control. It was the latest example of Trump using his podium, often via Twitter messages, to rattle companies and foreign countries as he seeks to shake up business as usual in Washington.
Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, took aim at what he called cost overruns even though the plane is only in development stages.
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than US$ 4b. Cancel order! Trump said on Twitter. It was not immediately clear what prompted the timing of his complaint.
Trump, who has vowed to use his skills as a businessman to make good deals that benefit US taxpayers, then made a surprise appearance in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, where he amplified his comments.
The plane is totally out of control. I think it's ridiculous. 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, he told reporters.
Boeing, which has built planes for U.S. presidents since 1943, has not yet begun building the two replacements for the current Air Force One planes, which are scheduled to be in service by 2024.
Boeing has not yet been awarded the money to build the proposed replacements.
We are currently under contract for US$170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the President of the United States, the company said in a statement.
Apparently Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg called Trump after his remarks and they had a constructive dialogue. Muilenburg told Trump the cost of the airplane could be lowered if the U.S. Air Force changed its requirements and the issue would likely be resolved without a major dispute, the sources said.
The Air Force, which operates the presidential planes, announced in January 2015 that Boeing's 747-8 would be used to replace the two current presidential planes.
The planes can fly direct from Washington to Hong Kong, 1,600 km farther than the current Air Force One. They are designed to be an airborne White House able to fly in worst-case security scenarios, such as nuclear war.