President Trump and Commercial Aviation: A Twitter History

Jan 2, 2018

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On Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to comment on the status of commercial aviation. As has been widely reported, 2017 was the safest year on record for commercial air travel worldwide with just 111 accidents leading to 13 fatalities in two incidents, in Angola and Russia.

In Tuesday morning’s tweet, President Trump commented on the report, expressing his “very strict” stance on commercial aviation but without specifying how he has been “strict” about it.

If nothing else because of a matter of timing, it’s not likely that anything President Trump did in his first year led to the year being safest ever for civil aviation — especially on a global level. In fact, as pointed out by CNN’s Aviation Editor Jon Ostrower, there have been no US passenger airline fatalities since 2009. In addition, the current Federal Aviation Administration’s administrator Michael Huerta has been in his role since January 2013. Robert Sumwalt, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, was sworn in in March 2017, but has been a board member since August 2006.

So President Trump likely hasn’t been directly responsible for commercial aviation’s safest year on record, but he certainly has talked about  the industry a lot on his preferred method of communication, Twitter. We took a look at some of the most significant tweets and stances President Trump has taken about the industry since assuming the presidency. (Note that while President Trump has also commented on military aviation, tweeting for example about Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornets and a new 747 Air Force One, this timeline focuses only on commercial aviation.)

January 2017

In a chain of tweets, the President mentioned the disastrous Delta systemwide outage, causing a domestic ground stop.

February 2017

President Trump tweeted that he was headed to South Carolina to talk jobs. He also gave a speech in front of the new 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft in Charleston.

March 2017

The president unveiled a $1 trillion plan to improve US infrastructure, including airports. In it, he mentioned, “Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land,” though no further details were announced, and haven’t been since.

June 2017

The President unveiled his plan to privatize air traffic control. In his announcement, he declared that a non-governmental nonprofit entity would make “flights quicker, safer and more reliable.” Here are nine things you should know about air traffic control privatization and what it would mean for you.

President Trump retweeted this tweet from “Fox & Friends” about his ATC plan being a win-win.

September 2017

Following the devastation caused by multiple hurricanes, the president tweeted to thank American Airlines CEO Doug Parker for running evacuation flights.

November 2017

With busy Thanksgiving travel in full swing, President Trump tweeted about how many Americans were expected to travel. He added that “airports are running very smoothly!”

December 2017

The Trump administration called a rule that would require airlines to disclose their fees “of limited public benefit” — not a move that can be fairly described as being in the interest of paying passengers.

While President Trump may not have directly influenced 2017 being the safest year on record for commercial aviation, it’s surely an industry he’s been involved with. It will be interesting to see how much — if at all — the President influences the industry in 2018 and beyond.

Featured image by Sean Rayford / Getty Images.

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