Donald Trump’s Air Force One deal ‘severely impacted’ Boeing, says plane-maker CEO

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Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told investors on Wednesday that company executives should not have agreed to then-President Donald Trump’s terms for the Air Force One contract four years ago, citing $660 million (£526 million) in cost overruns in the first quarter of 2022. Without naming the former president, Mr Calhoun characterised the $3.9 billion (£3.1 billion) contract signed in 2018 to develop two replacement aircraft for the White House as a “very unique negotiation” that Boeing probably should not have taken.

He said: “We took some risks not knowing that Covid would arrive and not knowing that inflation would take hold like it has – and both of those have impacted us fairly severely.”

Boeing – a major government and defence contractor – faced “a very unique negotiation, a very unique set of risks that Boeing probably shouldn’t have taken” during the Air Force One talks, Mr Calhoun said.

“But we are where we are, and we’re going to deliver great airplanes.”

The planes are designed to be an airborne White House, able to fly in worst-case security scenarios, such as nuclear war, and are modified with military avionics, advanced communications and a self-defence system.

The planes were supposed to be delivered by 2024 but are behind schedule, according to reports. Boeing disclosed it has lost $660 million this quarter on the programme.

Trump got personally involved in the negotiations for the replacement aircraft.
In February 2017, Trump said the Air Force was “close to signing a $4.2 billion (£3.35 billion) deal” and that “we got that price down by over $1 billion (£797.5 million)”.

Boeing said in a tweet after the contract was finalised: “President Trump negotiated a good deal on behalf of the American people.”

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The planes were supposed to be delivered by 2024 but are behind schedule, according to reports. Boeing disclosed it has lost $660 million this quarter on the programme.

A Boeing spokesperson said Calhoun’s remarks on Wednesday were referring specifically to problems with fixed-price contracts.

The spokesperson declined to answer when asked whether Calhoun was directly blaming Trump, saying the CEO’s comments speak for themselves.
The deal was negotiated under then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

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Calhoun took over as Boeing CEO in January 2020 and Muilenburg retired.
Boeing is scheduled to deliver the first Air Force One aircraft in 2024 and the second plane in 2025.

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