Trump Blasts Boeing on Air Force One Largesse; Ukraine's Antonov Offers Luxury at a Discount
President-elect Donald Trump has slammed Boeing for cost-overruns on two 747s, but Trump could fly like Putin for much less
President-elect Donald Trump, sweeping to power partly on a promise to cut down government waste and corruption, is making headlines even before being sworn into office.
Last week Trump announced a deal with air conditioner-manufacturer Carrier to prevent 1,100 jobs from going to Mexico, a core theme of his campaign.
Now Trump is taking aim at bloated government contracts. On Tuesday he fired off this tweet at Boeing:
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)December 6, 2016
According to Politico, the air force had originally earmarked $1.65 billion for two new presidential 747s, but costs have now skyrocketed:
The Air Force said previously that it had earmarked $1.65 billion for two new presidential aircraft, which will be four-engine Boeing 747-8s. The source of Trump's $4 billion cost estimate for the program was not immediately clear, although a Government Accountability Office report from last March priced it at roughly $3.2 billion.
The two planes are so expensive, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, because of the added features demanded by White House security personnel. Air Force One is “a flying White House, in terms of the security,” she said, noting that the new aircraft would be able to defend itself against missile attacks and give the president the ability to communicate with nuclear forces and allow him or her to run the government for extended periods of time if need be.
But the story doesn't end there. Sensing a business opportunity, Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov responded to Trump the next day, offering its products:
— Antonov Company 🇺🇦 (@AntonovCompany)December 7, 2016
Mr. Trump has yet to publicly acknowledge the Ukrainian tender, but Antonov's largest offering, the mammoth six engine AN-225 Mriya, might interest The Donald. The AN-225 was originally designed to haul the Soviet Buran space shuttle - with the right make over, that just might be big and bold enough to appeal to Trump's sense of style.
What about costs? The AN-225 runs about $250 million a pop, stock. Even with security upgrades, that should easily come in way under $1-4 billion demanded by Boeing.
But let's not leave out the competition. What about that "other" most powerful man in the world? Russian president Vladimir Putin sports an Ilyushin IL-96-300, with all the bells and whistles. This Russian documentary gave an inside look at Putin's presidential aircraft (Russian only):
The IL-96-300 easily bests the AN-225 and B-747, coming in at only $40 million.
At this rate, Trump may just have to reconsider his pledge to keep jobs in the United States. After all, if Putin can afford this gold-plated luxury at such a discount, it may be too good a deal for the businessman and plane connoisseur Trump to refuse.