Elaine Chao, the U.S. transportation secretary, took a 737 Max 8 jet from Austin to Washington, D.C., in an apparent act of support, according to a late-Tuesday report.
Politico, citing an anonymous tipster, reported that Chao took a nonstop flight on the plane on Tuesday in the midst of worldwide grounding of the plane that has been involved in a pair of fatal plane crashes within a four-month span.
The bans come after Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash, which resulted in the deaths of 157 people near Addis Ababa.
The groundings by foreign regulators, which typically follow FAA safety determinations for American-built jets, has idled more than 50% of the 737 Max fleet around the world. Most of those are MAX 8s, the version involved in the Ethiopia crash
The FAA, which is overseen by Chao, said most recently that it had “no basis” for grounding the jets that were first rolled out in 2017.
Shares of Boeing were set to face pressure for a third straight day after losing about $25 billion in market capitalization since Friday. On Wednesday, shares of Boeing were off by nearly 2% in premarket action.
The aviation and defense giant’s stock, which is a key component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.38% has risen by 15.9% in the first three months of 2019. By comparison, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.30% has gained 11.4% so far this year and the Dow has climbed by about 9.6%.
Trump’s position on the Boeing jet hasn’t been made clear, beyond a cryptic tweet on Tuesday, but according to reports the president spoke to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg about the Ethiopian crash.
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