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Boeing spent $500,000 more than it previously disclosed on personal private jet trips for top executives

Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Embattled airplane maker Boeing disclosed it lavished an additional $546,000 on the cost of personal air travel in recent years for four top executives, including CEO Dave Calhoun, who announced last month that he will leave the company by the end of the year.

The increased spending estimate, disclosed in a recent company filing, brought the total cost to the company for the personal air travel for the four to $1.9 million since 2021. Besides Calhoun, the other executives include CFO Brian West; Stan Deal, who recently departed as CEO of its commercial airplane unit; and Theodore Colbert, the CEO of its defense, space and security business.

The disclosure comes as the plane maker is facing additional scrutiny for a series of safety incidents, including a midair blowout of part of a fuselage in January, which prompted a number of investigations into the company’s practices, an executive shakeup and promises that the company will turn itself around.

The air travel is part of what are known as perquisites, or perks granted the executives, which also include ground transportation, lodging and meals during personal travel.

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And for air travel, the reported costs include only the incremental costs to Boeing, such as fuel, crew travel expenses, on-board meals, landing fees, and parking costs. It does not include the cost of the corporate jets or the salaries of the flight crew, which Boeing said it would be paying whether or not the executives made the personal trips.

The cost of personal air travel by Calhoun alone came to $979,000 during those three years.

The upward adjustment means that Boeing spent at least $734,000 in 2022 and $306,000 in 2021 on these executives’ personal air travel, according to figures provided. Some of the amounts for air travel for Colbert and Deal are not broken out for the earlier years, despite the increased cost now being reported for those years for all four. And 2023 personal air travel costs for the four came to $872,000.

Boeing has been struggling financially for five years, since fatal crashes of its 737 Max in late 2018 and early 2019 resulted in a 20-month grounding of its best-selling plane. It was also hit by the pandemic, which caused a near-halt in air travel for months and deep losses at most airlines that buy its planes.

Since the start of the grounding in 2019 the company has reported adjusted losses totaling more than $31 billion, and losses are projected to continue going forward.

Company policy requires its CEO to fly on its fleet of private jets, or leased aircraft, even when flying for personal reasons for security reasons, and the other top executives are permitted to do so as well when aircraft are available.

But an internal company review of some of the flights that had previously been classified as business travel determined the flights should be classified as personal travel under Securities and Exchange Commission rules, according to the filing. That review resulted in a newly reported cost of personal travel that was $546,000 more in 2022 and 2021 than previously disclosed.

That review appears to have been conducted after a September 2023 article in the Wall Street Journal detailing the perks of top Boeing executives, including the liberal use of the aircraft to travel from homes far from company headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

The new filing came Friday evening. Boeing did not have any comment on the costs of the executives’ personal air travel beyond the information in the filing.

That Friday filing also disclosed that Calhoun’s total compensation for 2023 came to $32.8 million, up 45% from his 2022 compensation. He did decline his annual incentive bonus, which would have paid him an additional $2.8 million, after a Boeing 737 Max plane being flown by Alaska Airlines on January 5 had a door plug blow out, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the plane.

The incident sparked a series of federal investigations, a temporary grounding, executive ousters and renewed questions about the safety and quality of Boeing planes.

Last month, Calhoun announced he would step down as CEO of the embattled aircraft maker by the end of the year. At the same time, it was announced that Deal would retire from his position atop Boeing Commercial Airplanes, effective immediately.

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