U.S. could buy 2 Boeing 747s once slated for Russia as next Air Force One jets

The U.S. Air Force reportedly is in talks to buy two 747-8 jetliners that were originally bound for Russia’s now defunct Transaero Airlines. The jets have been in storage since they rolled out of Boeing’s factory in 2015.

President Donald Trump’s administration may be poised to strike a peculiar deal for the next Air Force One planes: purchasing jumbo jets abandoned by a defunct Russian airline.

The U.S. Air Force is in talks to buy two 747-8 jetliners from Boeing that were originally bound for Russia’s Transaero Airlines, said a person briefed on the talks. The humpbacked passenger jets have been in storage since they rolled out of the plane maker’s Everett factory in 2015.

Boeing never built the other two of four jumbos ordered by Transaero, which liquidated as Western sanctions sapped Russia’s tourism industry. Aeroflot PJSC absorbed the remnants of the airline, but opted not to take the order for the four-engine jets.

“We are still working with the Air Force on a deal for two 747s,” said Caroline Hutcheson, a Boeing spokeswoman who declined to confirm whether talks were centered on the so-called white tails. “We are focused on the best deal and price for the Air Force.”

The initial contracts with Transaero were finally canceled last month, and three of the jets were removed from Boeing’s backlog. That freed up the aircraft for purchase, said the person familiar with the talks, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are sensitive. The planes have been parked in a U.S. desert storage yard.

“We’re working through the final stages of coordination to purchase two commercial 747-8 aircraft and expect to award a contract soon,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in an email while not directly discussing specific aircraft.

As president-elect, Trump tweeted that the “costs are out of control” for the new Air Force One planes and demanded, “Cancel order.” He later boasted of negotiating with Boeing to reduce the cost.

As part of a Pentagon request to shift, or reprogram, $2.4 billion in previously approved funds, the Air Force last month requested $195 million to speed up purchase of two Boeing 747-8 commercial planes for the project.

The Air Force said the acceleration will take advantage of Boeing’s favorable pricing, which is contingent upon a contract award by this month.

“This effort will ensure delivery of two aircraft by December” instead of late…

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