Boeing says it has Trump deal on Air Force One planes

Donald Trump boarding Air Force One in Florida, on Feb 19, 2018.
Donald Trump boarding Air Force One in Florida, on Feb 19, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Boeing said on Tuesday (Feb 27) it has reached an agreement to build future Air Force One planes after addressing Donald Trump’s criticism over hefty costs associated with the presidential aircraft.

“Boeing is proud to build the next generation of Air Force One, providing American presidents with a flying White House at outstanding value to taxpayers,” Boeing said on Twitter.

“President Trump negotiated a good deal on behalf of the American people.”

In December 2016, between his election and his inauguration, Trump lambasted the cost of the iconic aircraft as “ridiculous,” saying Boeing was planning to spend US$4 billion (S$5.2 billion) on the planes.

He threatened to cancel the contract if costs were not brought down.

Chicago-based Boeing at the time pledged to control expenditures on the planes.

As a cost-saving measure, Boeing had proposed to sell the Air Force two Boeing 747-8 planes initially intended for a Russian airline that went bankrupt, according to a person familiar with the talks.

The Boeing 747-8, the civilian version of the presidential plane, is listed at a price of US$390 million.

However, the price of the presidential aircraft is significantly higher due to additional military features.

The legendary Air Force One jets – light blue and white liveried, with “United States of America” emblazoned on the fuselage and an American flag on the tail – are a powerful symbol of US might.

But the current models are nearing the end of their 30-year lifespan.

The planes are equipped with numerous security and defensive measures, most of which are top secret, as well as the ability to refuel in flight.