President Trump began Monday morning on Twitter by offering a lesson in Branding 101.
The test case: “If I were Boeing.”
Just weeks ago, as Boeing came under intense scrutiny for the safety of its 737 Max 8 planes, Trump asserted: “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT.”
But he took a different tack Monday when he said that if he were in charge of the American aviation giant — as opposed to, say, the executive branch — he would “FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name.”
“No product has suffered like this one,” Trump tweeted. “But again, what the hell do I know?”
The tweet stands in contrast with his earlier stance that the problem with air travel was that flying had just become “far too complex.”
“I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better.”
Boeing has come under intense scrutiny — from regulatory agencies and customers alike — since two 737 Max planes crashed within a five-month window, killing 346 people. But the special relationship between the 102-year-old company and the federal government made it all the more noteworthy for Trump to claim that “no product has suffered like this one.”
As The Post reported last month, Boeing and the U.S. government have historically relied upon one another, “together creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, outfitting the United States with top military aircraft and supplying planes worldwide to allow the growth of passenger air travel and to boost U.S. exports.” Yet those close ties are being seen through a more critical lens as Boeing and U.S. regulators appeared slow to react to the March 10 crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet in Ethiopia.
Trump hardly stood apart from earlier presidents in his broad support for Boeing. Speaking at a Boeing plant in South Carolina in 2017, Trump closed out his speech saying, “God bless you, may God bless the United States of America, and God bless Boeing.”
Last week, the White House Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced it would pursue tariffs against a slate of aircraft and airplane parts coming from the European Union, as well as other products such as brandy and brooms from E.U. countries. The office warned that the tariffs would have consequences for an extended trade dispute involved Airbus, the European aircraft behemoth, and said the damage caused by E.U. subsidies totaled $11 billion every year.
“The World Trade Organization finds that the European Union subsidies to Airbus has adversely impacted the United States, which will now put Tariffs on $11 billion of EU products!” Trump said on Twitter. “The EU has taken advantage of the U.S. on trade for many years. It will soon stop!”
The president’s Monday morning tweet came four weeks into a worldwide grounding of Boeing 737 Max jets — a precaution that will likely drag on for some time. American Airlines said Sunday it was canceling flights on the aircraft through Aug. 19 while it waits for Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration to fix and recertify the 737 Max’s flight-control systems.
“We remain confident that the impending software updates, along with the new training elements Boeing is developing for the MAX, will lead to recertification of the aircraft soon,” American Airlines President Robert Isom and CEO Doug Parker wrote in a letter to pilots and employees.