McClatch has a story out examining Donald Trump’s claim that Boeing will move aircraft production to China. Sample quote:
For over a year, Donald Trump has had a message for voters whose livelihood depends on the aircraft industry, specifically aviation giant Boeing – elect me, or your jobs are moving to China.
Aircraft industry analysts say that claim is unfounded – “side-splittingly hilarious,” in the words of Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group, which studies a wide range of aviation-related industries.
“They’re an embarrassing misunderstanding of the aircraft industry,” he said of Trump’s claims.
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.
As an economist who follows the aviation industry closely, Trump’s claim is laughable and demonstrates zero industry understanding. Boeing has a ton of problems at the moment — the 787 program may never turn a profit, production of one of its cash cows, the 777-300ER, will soon come to an end, Boeing isn’t selling many widebody jets this year, its next generation 737 is limited as compared to the latest Airbus product, and its KC-46 tanker program is late and over budget — and none of them have anything to do with production line labor costs. The threat to Boeing employee jobs in South Carolina is from poor sales forcing a production slowdown, and not shifting jobs to China. The North Charleston plant builds 787, and Boeing has net orders for 19 thus far in 2016. Boeing has delivered 87 787s so far this year.