In what could signify a warming of relations between President Donald Trump and Boeing, the president is expected to attend the rollout Friday in South Carolina of the first 787-10 Dreamliner. The visit would come two days after a critical unionization vote at the Boeing site.
President Donald Trump is expected to attend the rollout of Boeing’s first 787-10, the new and largest model of the Dreamliner family, on Friday in North Charleston, South Carolina, according to media reports from both Washington, D.C., and South Carolina.
Several reports cited an FAA notice warning pilots to “expect VIP movement February 17, 2017 in the vicinity of Charleston, SC. Pilots can expect airspace restrictions.”
It would be the first visit of a sitting president to Boeing’s South Carolina facility, where the 787-10 model will be exclusively built.
Boeing declined to comment.
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If Trump’s visit happens, it will come just two days after a critical unionization vote at the manufacturing site.
On Wednesday, some 3,000 production workers at the plant will decide whether to let the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union represent them in a state that is extremely hostile to unions. The vote has triggered a bitter propaganda war between the IAM and Boeing, with TV and billboard ads and social-media campaigns trying to sway the result.
The visit could mark the warming of Trump’s relations with Boeing.
The company’s leadership has been trying to get back on track with Trump ever since a tweet in December about the cost of Boeing’s Air Force One being “out of control”got things off to a bad start.
Trump has also thrown into doubt Boeing’s ability to finalize a big jet order from Iran.
When Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg met with Trump last month, he discussed how to reduce costs on the presidential jet.
Trump also used the talk with Muilenburg to criticize the pricing of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jet fighter, which he also deemed too expensive, by implying that the Pentagon might order more Boeing F/A-18 fighters instead — even though those aircraft are not comparable.
Muilenburg’s meeting with Trump may already have achieved one unexpected victory for Boeing: Trump seems to have reversed his opposition to the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which helps finance overseas sales of Boeing commercial airplanes.
During the election campaign, Trump fell in line with conservative Republicans who oppose the Ex-Im Bank as “corporate welfare.”
But last week, a group of U.S. senators who met with the president reported that Trump told them he had changed his mind, persuaded by Muilenburg’s arguments that the bank supports American jobs at no cost to the taxpayer.
His visit would come a year to the day since Trump warned, in a South Carolina appearance, that unless he was elected, Boeing within a few short years would ship all its jobs from the state to China, where Boeing had agreed to open a joint venture to paint planes and install seats and other interior fixtures.
“They are going to build that plant, they are going to devalue the hell out of their currency, and all of a sudden you’re gonna be reading a big front-page story, all over the place, that Boeing is going to leave South Carolina, they’re going to make all their planes in China. Because that’s what they do,” Trump told an audience in Walterboro, S.C. “And our leaders aren’t smart enough to stop it, OK?”
Aerospace analysts at the time scoffed at his dire prediction, noting Boeing’s massive investment in the South Carolina complex.