Boeing CEO Scored $33 Million Payout in 2023

David Calhoun enjoyed a 45% jump from 2022, but the aerospace giant has started to tie executive pay to broader safety goals.

Photo by John McArthur on Unsplash.

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Boeing’s boss enjoyed a big pay bump last year. 

The aerospace giant revealed late Friday in an SEC filing that outgoing CEO David Calhoun received about $33 million in compensation in 2023, which was a healthy jump from the $22.6 million he took home in 2022.

It’s Good to Be the King

While Calhoun’s pay bump doesn’t seem like the best PR move of all time, given that Boeing is off to a truly annus horribilis that began when a door panel blew off a Boeing 737 Max 9 jet during an Alaskan Airlines flight in January, it’s also a symptom of the heightened arms race that companies find themselves in when trying to hire — and entice — their next CEO. Bestowing a massive salary is a given, but so are add-ons like stock awards tied to higher equity prices, free transportation (probably a given at Boeing), and personal security details. 

That means that sometimes weird stuff like a CEO getting a 45% jump in pay right before the company falls into a reputational crisis is going to happen. Boeing even addressed the awkwardness, saying in the filing that “it bears emphasis that Calhoun’s 2023 awards were designed to emphasize the long-term shareholder value growth.”

But Boeing also signaled that this is a one-off it hopes to never repeat:

  • Calhoun declined a roughly $3 million bonus earlier this year and is getting a smaller stock award this year. The company also said it plans to tie executives’ long-term incentive pay to new quality and safety goals.
  • Most of Calhoun’s compensation for 2023 comes via stock awards that aren’t realized until he sells the shares, which can’t all be done at once. Boeing’s stock price has already dropped about 27% this year, which makes Calhoun’s package less lucrative.

Told You So: Calhoun’s compensation already came under fire last year when proxy adviser ISS said Boeing had boosted his pay despite reporting negative total shareholder returns. “The company has underperformed over CEO Calhoun’s tenure,” ISS said. Fortunately for Calhoun and many CEOs, underperforming can still be quite lucrative.