President-elect Donald Trump believes that the contract with Boeing (NYSE:BA) to build the new Air Force One should be canceled because it is too expensive. On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted, “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!” The news caused Boeing shares to dip slightly in morning trading.
Trump addressed his tweet with reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday. He said, “It’s going to be over $4 billion … and 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.” Trump didn’t specify where the $4 billion figure came from.
Air Force One is a symbol of presidential power at home and abroad. Defense consultant Loren Thompson said that “Air Force One has unique communications, safety and self-protection features so that the president can function under the most trying circumstances — like nuclear war.” He continued on to say that the price tag “is driven by the demands of the mission.”
Boeing has supplied airplanes to the Air Force One fleet for almost 50 years. The aging fleet will reach the planned 30-year service life in 2017. The current Air Force One plane is due for an upgrade after flying more than a million miles.
Boeing was selected as the manufacturer for the new Air Force One planes in January 2015. According to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, Boeing’s 747-8 was the only plane made in the United States that could meet the requirements for the presidential aircraft.
According to officials, the next Air Force One 747-8 jets are estimated to begin operations in fiscal 2023. The two new planes will be more technologically advanced than the current fleet. The planes are expected to have comparable interiors to the current 747, including work and sleeping quarters for the president and first family. The planes are expected to cost $102 million in the coming fiscal year and $3 billion over the next five years.
This wasn’t the first time Trump has mentioned Boeing. In February, then-candidate Trump said at a rally in South Carolina that the company plan to build “massive plants in China” could be problematic if the country reduced the value of its currency. In July, he objected to the use of Air Force One for campaign events.
In Trump’s most recent financial disclosure, filed in May 2016, he reported owning between $50,001 and $100,000 in Boeing stock. According to a Trump aide, the president-elect sold all of his Boeing stock in June.