Trump Offers Boeing Rebranding Advice: How About 'Super Cool Not Crashyliner'?
Donald Trump is a guy who knows a lot of things about everything! For instance, he knows that anything from the Gilded Age is probably a really good thing: Unfettered robber barons, virtually unregulated industry, no unions, steam, Empire, and did we mention unfettered robber barons? He really likes those! At times, we worry he may actually be Reuben Bolling's comic-strip character, Percival Dunwoody, Idiot Time-Traveler from 1909.
Still, Trump likes to keep his expertise in business limber, which is why he sometimes offers such monumental thoughts as "technology is too complex so we must eliminate it," which was his take on the business and regulatory failures that led to the deaths of nearly 350 people in the two recent crashes of Boeing's 737 Max series planes. Now, Trump would like to tell Boeing how to fix those planes, or at least fix Boeing's image, because image is everything! Look, wasn't making Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan the acting defense secretary enough?
Gosh, that's some very good thinkering! We bet that, while the planes have been literally grounded worldwide, it hasn't even OCCURRED to Boeing that the company should fix them!
As for the rebranding thing, that's a pretty good dodge: If people are wary of your company and its products, just rename your company, like, say, Blackwater to Xe and whatever the cigarette maker Philip-Morris is now. (It's Philip-MorrisUSA, an Altria brand, and that has made all the difference!) We suppose it wouldn't be impossible, but until the recent crashes, the 737 had been one of the most well-known, reliable aircraft on the market -- and in fact Boeing traded on that familiarity to get the Max series on the market without the extensive testing and certification needed for an all-new aircraft type, even though that's essentially what it was.
We bet the brand would be a lot less in need of a facelift if the plane's flight control system hadn't caused two horrible deadly crashes. Slapping a new name on the things (Trump might suggest "Super Cool Not Crashyliner") seems a bit of a rear guard action, no?
Still it might be worth remembering Donald Trump's own expertise as an aviation mogul! Trump spent far too much -- about $300 million in late-'80s dollars) to purchase the Eastern Airlines shuttle service, and another $65 million on a fleet of aging, stinky planes. THEN he spent about a million bucks per $4 million plane to refurbish the things. Ever the smart aviation guy, he originally wanted genuine pink marble sinks in the lavatories, because Trump had no idea that to make money airlining, you have to keep the planes as light as possible. He eventually, and tearfully we imagine, went with fake marble.
And yes, he insisted that his chief competitor, the Pan Am shuttle, was on a wobbly financial footing that led the airline to cut corners on safety. To no real surprise, three months into Trump Shuttle's existence, one of the airline's 727s had to make an emergency landing at Logan Airport when the nosewheel wouldn't come down.
Still, it was a HUGE SUCCESS, because only other people lost money, as the Boston Globe explained in a beautiful overview -- the best, classiest overview -- of Trump's failed airline:
Over an 18-month period, Trump couldn't turn a profit. The Shuttle had lost $128 million.
But Trump did have one thing in his favor: leverage over his creditors. In September 1990, he missed a $1.1 million interest payment and asked the bank to defer future payments.
"One banker told me, 'He would take down the bank, he owes so much money,' " Nobles said. " 'We can't afford him to fail.' "
In late 1991, about 2½ years after Trump had purchased the airline, Trump gave up control of his prize in order to get out from a pile of debt.
As part of the deal, Trump was no longer responsible for some $245 million in loans left on the shuttle airline. In addition, out of the $135 million that Trump had personally guaranteed, at least $100 million was forgiven, according to news reports at the time.
And just think, he's brought that fiscal wisdom to running the US government! Still, Trump, just like Charles Foster Kane, thought his little venture was a lot of fun, all in all:
"I got out at a good time," Trump said in the recent Globe interview. "I walked away saying, 'I'm smart.' It's good to get great financing. . . . I felt successful. The market had crashed. I didn't lose anything. It was a good thing."
The oldest aviator joke in the world is "Any landing you walk away from is a good one." By that standard, Donald Trump was a fantastic airline chief, so maybe Boeing should look into equipping the new Uncrashyliners with genuine granite tray tables. Nothing but the best!
Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. Please send us money so we can keep Wonkette in the air. Or at least high.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.