Boeing ditches Chicago headquarters for Washington area

Boeing will move its headquarters to the Washington, DC area from Chicago, bringing the company closer to federal lawmakers and rival defence contractors.

The US aerospace group on Thursday said it will shift its base to Arlington, Virginia, joining fellow military contractors Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics in the Washington suburbs.

“The region makes strategic sense for our global headquarters given its proximity to our customers and stakeholders,” chief executive Dave Calhoun said in a statement.

The company also “plans to develop a research and technology hub in the area to harness and attract engineering and technical capabilities”, according to the announcement.

Though Boeing claimed that it will “maintain a significant presence” in Chicago and Illinois, the withdrawal will be a symbolic blow for the city, and the move was immediately condemned by the state’s US senators.

“Boeing’s decision to leave Illinois is incredibly disappointing,” senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth said in a joint statement. “We are working together to ensure Boeing leadership both understands how harmful this move will be and does everything possible to protect Illinois’s workers and jobs.”

Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s mayor, was less fazed, saying in a statement that the city has “a robust pipeline of major corporate relocations and expansions”.

The move comes during a tumultuous period for Boeing. The company has been subject to greater regulatory scrutiny following two fatal crashes of its 737 Max jet in 2018 and 2019 and the discovery of flaws in its 787 Dreamliner. Dreamliner production remains halted and has cost the company about $5.5bn so far.

Boeing also reported $1.2bn in losses in the first quarter stemming from its replacement programme for Air Force One, the US presidential aircraft, and the war in Ukraine.

Relocating to Washington is “a step in the wrong direction”, said representative Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which issued a report in 2020 criticising Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, the US regulator, for safety lapses.

“Boeing’s problem isn’t a lack of access to government, but rather its ongoing production problems and the failures of management and the board that led to the fatal crashes of the 737. Boeing should focus on making safe aeroplanes — not lobbying federal regulators and congress,” he continued.

Boeing shares fell 4 per cent at $150.47 on Thursday amid a wider sell-off in US stocks.

News of the headquarters being moved was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Amazon announced the establishment of secondary headquarters in Arlington in 2018, receiving $573mn in related incentives. It was not immediately clear what, if any, incentives Boeing was being offered.

Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago in 2001, lured by more than $50mn in local tax incentives, following its merger with then Midwest-based McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing was headquartered in Seattle from its founding in 1916 until its Chicago relocation.

Boeing currently operates out of a skyscraper in Chicago’s West Loop neighbourhood, though only about 500 of its 140,000 global employees work there.

hello, I am Flora Khan and i work journalist in allnewshouse website i work in other sites like forbes and washington post with 5 years in experience.

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