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Donald Trump

Guess how much Donald Trump spent to upgrade Air Force One’s fridges ... US$24 million

As president-elect, Trump trashed Boeing’s stock by attacking on Twitter the high-priced Air Force One programme

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 January, 2018, 12:07pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 January, 2018, 12:07pm

What hums, flies above 30,000ft, and costs about as much as Donald Trump’s upstate New York manor? Trump’s new aeroplane refrigerators.

The Trump administration has signed a US$24 million contract with Boeing to replace two food chilling systems aboard Air Force One, the president’s plane, according to reports.

The systems are two of five such “chillers” aboard Air Force One, which must be equipped with a refrigeration capacity to handle 3,000 meals, according to military specifications.

That’s enough to feed the president and 50 of his closest friends three meals a day for three weeks. And that’s assuming the president never indulged in his favourite plane fare: fast food.

The US$24 million price tag, upon which Boeing declined to comment, amounts to enough taxpayer money to fund an estimated eight weekends for the president at Mar-a-Lago, which Trump visited 11 times in his first year as president. Or the cash could be used to provide security at Trump Tower in New York City, where the president no longer lives, for about two months.

As president-elect, Trump trashed Boeing’s stock by attacking on Twitter the high-priced Air Force One programme.

“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than US$4 billion,” Trump tweeted. “Cancel order!”

It’s not clear where Trump got the US$4 billion figure; at the time Boeing had a US$170 million contract to begin work on the next Air Force One.

The term “Air Force One” refers not to any particular aircraft but to any plane carrying the president. The list price for the 747 aeroplanes outfitted as Air Force One is about US$350 million, but customising the planes costs much more.

A consultant told defence One that the plane was expensive not because Boeing was gouging the government but because military requirements for the craft are expensive to fulfil.

“It’s not a contractor issue, it is a requirements issue,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice-president of analysis at the Teal Group consulting firm. “It’s not getting people rich.”