The Boeing Company, a major defense contractor and one of the world’s two leading airline aircraft, is expected to move its headquarters from Chicago to the Washington, D.C., area, according to two people familiar with the matter.
According to one of the people, the decision could be announced on Thursday at the earliest. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly before Boeing’s announcement.
Boeing did not immediately comment.
The decision was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
A move to Arlington, Virginia, would put Boeing executives closer to their key customer, the Pentagon, and officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, which certifies Boeing passenger planes.
Boeing has its roots in the Seattle area, and has assembly plants in Washington state and South Carolina. The company moved its headquarters to Chicago, also known to have Dallas and Denver, in 2001 after an unusually public search.
According to a regulatory filing, Boeing had 142,000 employees at the end of 2021, including 12% based outside the United States. The filing did not say how many work in Chicago.
“They won’t get pushback because of their Chicago workforce and industry presence being minimal,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at Consultant Aerodynamic Advisory. “Since D.C. is home to their biggest single client, this makes some sense, but it’s a far less impressive move than moving back to Seattle.”
The move would mark a victory for Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, who campaigned last year on a promise to bring new jobs to the state.
Youngkin, who retired in 2020 as co-CEO of the private equity giant Carlyle Group, was personally involved in discussions about the move and was accompanied by Boeing CEO David Calhoun, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. He had a prior business relationship with him.
Democratic State Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslav said he was not advised of the move, but said it would be “one hell of a catch” for Virginia if it came to fruition.
“We are lucky to have them,” he said.
Susan Clarke, a spokeswoman for the state’s Economic Development Agency, said that “for competitive reasons and to protect confidential company information,” the agency could not comment on current or potential economic growth prospects.
Kelly Rindfuz, communications director for Arlington Economic Development, also declined to comment.
The news comes years after Amazon chose Arlington as the site for its second headquarters.