Trump on Boeing’s Air Force One contract: ‘Cancel order!’
AFP photoU.S. President-elect Donald Trump urged the government on Dec. 6 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, 2017, took aim at what he called cost overruns even though the plane is only in development stages, Reuters reported.
“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!” 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 American 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 $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.
Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg called Trump after his remarks and they had a constructive dialogue, sources familiar with the conversation told Reuters. 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.
China urges US to bar Taiwan leader
Meanwhile, China urged Washington to block Taiwan’s president from passing through the U.S., after reports said she may stop in New York for talks with Trump’s team, following a protocol-smashing phone call between the pair.
The president-elect broke with decades of precedent last week to accept a congratulatory phone call from Tsai, angering Beijing which regards the island as a rogue province awaiting unification.
Taiwan’s Liberty Times reported that President Tsai Ing-wen may seek to meet members of Trump’s team while in New York on her way to Central America, though her office would not confirm the plan to AFP.
The trip would take place before Trump’s inauguration, the newspaper said.
Taiwan has diplomatic relations with 22 states and the island’s leaders make regular visits to its small group of allies in Central America and the Caribbean, often stopping in the U.S. for meetings with sympathetic lawmakers.
China’s Foreign Ministry called on Washington to block any stopover in the United States.
Tsai’s “true intention is self-evident,” it told AFP on Dec. 7. “We hope America abides by the principle of the One China policy and the three U.S.-PRC Joint Communiques and does not allow her transit.”