To anyone who was worried: the American airline industry isn’t in as bad a shape as Donald Trump is making it out to be, who says that if he isn’t elected to be President, Boeing’s jobs are moving to China.
Here’s what Trump has been saying as of late about the airline industry, according to a McClatchy DC report:
Yet Trump continues to raise the idea of Boeing leaving the United States. “Oh, don’t worry; if I’m president it won’t happen,” the Republican presidential nominee said last month at a rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “If I’m president, Boeing will be very happy – believe me.”
Trump’s favorite example of what might be lost has been Boeing’s “big, big […] beautiful” facility in North Charleston, S.C. The company’s new plant employs more than 7,500 South Carolinians.
“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,” he said in South Carolina ahead of its Republican primary in February, warning that China would bully the U.S. by devaluing its currency.
A few aircraft industry experts collectively offered evidence refuting Trump’s claims. Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group, which studies a bunch of aviation-related industries, said that the claims are “side-splittingly hilarious” and “an embarrassing misunderstanding of the aircraft industry.”
Trump talks a lot about Boeing’s big, new facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, which employs over 7,500 residents. He thinks the company is going to just up and leave to outsource everything to China.
From Trump’s mouth during a rally in South Carolina last winter:
“It will be cheaper to build in China. Then all of a sudden your Boeing plant in this area will be gone, and we don’t want that to happen. And a politician will never be able to stop it. Because they’re all talk and no action. They don’t have a clue.”
Aboulafia points out that South Carolina is actually the place where Boeing is already outsourcing jobs from its facilities in Washington state. It’s where the 787 is manufactured, parts for the 737 MAX and the upcoming 777X are designed and produced and the Dreamliner final assembly and delivery facility is housed. The South Carolina facility is brand new, so the idea that it isn’t the future is “ridiculous.”
When approached for his two cents, the vice president of aviation consulting group Avitas Inc., Adam Pilarski, responded with, “Are you kidding me?”
“These statements about moving jobs don’t make sense. Obviously he doesn’t know much about this industry,” he said, adding that Trump’s one-size-fits-all approach to manufacturing doesn’t work in the aerospace sector.
“Aviation is different,” he said. “In order to produce stuff, you need a huge amount of supervision, not to mention the processes the FAA has for being approved – it’s very, very labor-intensive in terms of regulatory authority.”
He concluded by saying that, yes, while it’s possible to bring all the supervision overseas, it would be ridiculously expensive. Staying in the U.S. just makes more sense.
While Boeing does have a new facility in China, it’s just a completion facility. It’s for “installing carpets and some light paint work.” In other words, not for plane-building. Plus, completely outsourcing to China is unlikely because, according to Aboulafia, “the lack of intellectual property protections makes China unappealing for high-level aircraft work, anyway.”
Aviation isn’t the only type of transportation industry that Trump’s been mistaken about, either. Last March, during a speech in Michigan, he claimed that, if he became the President, he would stop Ford from opening facilities in Mexico and that he would make sure that Japanese cars are produced here. From the Detroit Free Press:
“Within 24 to 48 hours I will get a call from the head of Ford and he will say, ‘Mr. President, we have decided we’re going to build our new plant in the United States.’ ... That’s 100% sure. ... They’re going to say, ‘We’re moving back. You want us to move to Michigan?’ And I’ll say, ‘Yeah.’”
“I want those cars made in Michigan. The Japanese can do them, but let them make them here.”
It’s true that American automakers are shifting production of some vehicles to Mexico, specifically small cars. But that has also been to focus much more lucrative SUV and truck production in the U.S., plus it’s unclear how a president can unilaterally “stop” Ford from doing anything.
And Japanese carmakers, contrary to his beliefs, already produce more cars here in the U.S. than they import into the country. You don’t need to look further than the Subaru, the Toyota and the Mazda plants to know that.
So maybe now Trump won’t have to feel guilty about the $100 million-dollar “Trump”-stamped Boeing 757 private jet he has. Future planes won’t be made by the Chinese.