Should Boeing Move Its Headquarters Back To Seattle?

By Spyros Georgilidakis | February 26, 2024

Between calls from regulators and some Boeing shareholders for a reorganization, the company’s management refuses to consider a Seattle move.

Three days after the 737 MAX-9 blowout last January, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun flew back to Seattle. He called an all-hands meeting at the Renton factory where the 737 is built, addressing everyone working at the site. The company later released a video of the meeting to news media.

Photo: NTSB

It was clear that the meeting’s goal was to show Boeing’s immediate response to the accident. But some commentators pointed out that there was a rather awkward side to this very public move:

Isn’t it a bit strange that the CEO of a company needs to travel across the country, to “rally the troops” who actually make its biggest seller, its primary source of revenue?

Should Boeing Move Its Headquarters Back To Seattle?
Boeing’s 737 factory in Renton. Photo: Jelson25, CC BY-SA 3.0

Reading Signals (and sending them?)

On Monday, Dominic Gates reported on the failure of a plan to call for a vote, calling for the permanent return of Boeing management to Seattle. The company’s headquarters were there until 2001 when they moved to Chicago.

Then in 2022, 21 years after leaving Seattle, Boeing announced another move of its HQ, this time to Arlington, Virginia. Until then, this site was the headquarters of Boeing Defense and Space. Other company divisions, like Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Capital, remain in Renton, in Washington State.

Should Boeing Move Its Headquarters Back To Seattle?
Boeing’s current HQ in Arlington, Virginia, between the Pentagon and Reagan National Airport. Photo: Duane Lempke

A shareholder proposed that Boeing move its world headquarters back to Seattle, close to its Puget Sound production sites (Renton and Everett) and many other installations. Since the first 737 MAX crisis, the company has been divesting many assets in the region.

The shareholder argued that a move back to Seattle would re-connect Boeing management with its people. He added that this “…would send a meaningful signal Boeing credibly intends to resume its position at the top of the commercial airplane business, restore its reputation for safety and excellence, and is committed to fixing its problems.

Should Boeing Move Its Headquarters Back To Seattle?
Another angle of Boeing’s HQ in Virginia. Photo: mr_t_77, CC BY-SA 2.0

Boeing Back to Seattle: A Timely Proposal?

In response, Boeing’s management argued that shareholders are not in a position to make an informed judgment on such strategic decisions. Thus, the suggestion to move back to Seattle will not be put to a vote.

Photo: NTSB

Just hours after this story broke, an expert panel that was reviewing Boeing’s safety management presented its report to the U.S. Congress. The FAA had appointed this panel nearly a year ago, i.e. NOT as a result of the MAX-9 blowout.

One of the panel’s key findings was that there is a “disconnect” between Boeing’s management and its employees. And that this disconnect impacts the company’s safety culture, among its other negative effects.

Should Boeing Move Its Headquarters Back To Seattle?

Regulators and legislators continue to apply pressure on Boeing. Many agree that the company needs to send a convincing message that it is prepared to make changes, to move on from its latest crisis.

Many have called for a Seattle move, since before Boeing moved to Arlington, across the road from the Pentagon. The question is, could Boeing revisit its decision to NOT move back to its traditional manufacturing “home”? And are lawmakers or industry stakeholders likely to push for such a reversal now?



  • One possibility would be to copy the Navy SubSafe program and have the top Boeing executives riding on each new plane coming off the production line.

  • Look at C. Northcote Parkinson’s essay on Plots and Plans, which is part of the book Parkinson’s Law.

    Boeing isn’t the only firm whose firm was preceded by a new headquarters. Jack Welch moved the headquarters of GE to Connecticut. At Disney, Eisner built a new headquarters in California to keep out the ordinary employees. GE moved it’s headquarters to Boston because Connecticut was too isolated.

  • Boeing should move their HQ to hell ASAP ! Hell is @ FL 99999

  • In hi end manufacturing I believe it’s critical to be at and with the people building your products…’s a bad look to have a CEO who splits his time b/t N.H. and S.C……

  • The Boeing move to Chicago was all about ego and money.

    The Daley Jr. political machine fuhrer wanted a big name HG in Chicago and between the city and state paid Boeing $60,000,000, or maybe more, to hang their shingle in Chicago. Chicago got maybe 250 jobs and not much else and the little Daley got bragging rights. Neither entity made a rational decision and the taxpayers got Boeinged. And maybe Boeing started its dangerous quality slide then.

  • HQ never should have left the Seattle area in the first place…

    • My feelings on Boeing management is not based on whistleblower reports but on customer statements and those by Boeing management itself.

      Boeing said that the problem with the 737 Max MCAS was Runaway Stabilizer. According to Boeing’s own manual ( the problem was not runaway stabilizer since it was intermittent movement rather than continuous. According to Boeing’s own statements, they knew it was a lie.

      The Air Force was very unhappy with the fact that trash was found in the Boeing tankers as received by the Air Force. Boeing was supposed to have a final visual inspection before shipping. So either the inspections weren’t carried out, were so sloppy they didn’t find the trash, or they found the trash and left it on board the plane. Pick any one, and you will find the Air Force going beyond very, very annoyed to the point of being angry.

      With regard to the door plugs falling off, the number of failures should be enough to get several people fired, but Boeing can’t even find who did the work.

  • Move and sack the bean counters.

  • It’s not uncommon for employees and executives to be located across the country since all have remote connectivity. In fact, companies use geographical location to determine salary bands. However, the bigger question is why did workers allow themselves to fail to the degree their CEO deemed this necessary? IMHO, Boeing is clearly slipping. Personally, based on historical events and whistleblower interviews, etc., I will never let anyone in my family fly on a Max airplane…ever. Based on my exposure, albeit limited, the company puts profits above safety as seen with the Max, DC-10 cargo doors, etc. If I have a choice, I will always choose an Airbus plane but that’s me.

    • Rlly dude, so your convinced by the rhetoric by whistleblowers from 5 years ago, even if boeing has already fixed the problem you would not fly on a max. The B-29 made by boeing, also suffered engine problems. That the manufacturer failed to address, but it still got the job done. Thousands of people fly the max everyday, there’s no other choice. If you’re stuck on an island and the max is the only flight out. I bet you would take it, with no second thought.

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