'Salesman' Diplomats Pitch Perks for Boeing Deals

Politics a big part of billion-dollar global airline deals
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2011 3:21 AM CST
'Salesman' Diplomats Pitch Perks for Boeing Deals
A Boeing 777, owned by Emirates, landing in Everett, Wash. WikiLeaks cables are revealing the lengths that US diplomats will go to help with Boeing sales abroad.    (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren. file)

Turkey wants its astronaut to fly with NASA. The king of Saudi Arabia wants his plane to have all the same high-tech amenities as Air Force One. Bangladesh wants landing rights to resume at Kennedy International Airport. All are apparently up for grabs as perks if the nations sign contracts with Boeing. With tens of billions of dollars and thousands of jobs up for grabs in the global airline business, WikiLeaks cables reveal the incredible scale of the lobbying and horsetrading, with US diplomats acting as "salesmen," breaking out goodies for heads of state and airline executives while trying to spur sales for Boeing.

While it's not a surprise that US diplomats help American businesses abroad, the scale of the perks has never been known before, as Boeing vies with Europe's Airbus for lucrative contracts, reports the New York Times. “The way I look at it, it levels the playing field," said a Boeing spokesman. Boeing earns 70% of its revenues from outside the US, and each $1 billion in sales equals about 11,000 jobs.
(More Boeing stories.)

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