The Air Force is considering replacing Air Force One with planes made for a now-defunct Russian airline to save money.
The service is looking at two unused Boeing 747 planes abandoned by Transaero Airlines when the Russian company went out of business, several sources familiar with the talks told Bloomberg News.
The proposed deal, which is still in its planning phase and not finalized, could save money compared to buying two new Boeing 747s for Air Force One, which then President-elect Donald Trump criticized as being too expensive in December.
Transaero never picked up the planes, which are sitting in a storage yard in California, according to Defense One, which first reported the story. Aeroflot, another Russian airline, absorbed most of Transaero’s fleet, but declined take the two 747s which were listed at $1.5 billion, airline news outlet Flight Global reported in July.
The Air Force has not announced what specific planes it will purchased for the president’s aircraft.
“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.
The planes would need to undergo costly upgrades to be ready for to serve the president. The White House’s 2018 budget requests $3.2 billion on the project between 2018 and 2022.
“We are still working with the Air Force on a deal for two 747s,” Caroline Hutcheson, a spokeswoman for Boeing told Bloomberg. “We are focused on the best deal and price for the Air Force.”
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