Business air travel took a clobbering during the pandemic as meetings and conferences moved online. But Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, still ended up traveling a lot for work last year according to a filing by the company.
Since 2017, Cook has been forced by company policy to use only private jets for business and personal travel. Apple said it was for security and efficiency reasons. Back then his travel expenses were $93,109 while security expenses totaled $224,216, according to Apple's 2017 SEC regulatory filings.
His private jet expenses have ballooned since the policy came into force. In Apple's just released 2020 filing for shareholders, Cook's travel expenses were $432,564, up from $315,311 in 2019.
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Today's air travel costs for Cook "represents the incremental cost to Apple for Mr. Cook's personal use of private aircraft based on hourly flight charges and other variable costs incurred by Apple for such use, including variable fuel charges, departure fees, and landing fees," Apple said.
"In the interests of security and efficiency based on our global profile and the highly visible nature of Mr. Cook's role as CEO, the Board requires that Mr. Cook use private aircraft for all business and personal travel. Mr. Cook recognizes imputed taxable income and is not provided a tax reimbursement for personal use of private aircraft," Apple added.
The Apple CEO's total compensation for 2020 was $14,769,259, or as Apple highlights in the report 256 times the median annual total compensation for Apple's employees of $57,783.
Cook's salary of $3m a year hasn't changed since 2018, and while it is the largest salary among senior Apple executives, his total compensation for each of the past three years has been about $10m less than other top executives.
Apple notes in the report that it is against a shareholder proposal to reduce Apple's named executive officers' (NEO) annual compensation relative to the median compensation of Apple employees.
"America's ballooning executive compensation is neither responsible for the society nor sustainable for the economy, especially under the current pandemic crisis. Reducing the NEOs pay ratios should be included to the principles of executive compensation program. The Compensation Committee has the flexibility to include other ethical, social and economic factors," shareholders wrote in a supporting statement to the proposal.
Apple has recommended a vote against the proposal and said its executive compensation plan is aligned with the interest of Apple shareholders.
"However, we fundamentally agree that it is important to take actions that drive accountability in areas that are important to the long-term success of our business," Apple said.
"Beginning in 2021, an environmental, social, and governance modifier based on Apple Values and other key community initiatives will be incorporated into the annual cash incentive program for our named executive officers."
As CNBC notes, the document also adds some new language around antitrust risks.
This year's annual meeting will be held online due to the pandemic. It will be streamed at 9 P.M. Pacific Time on February 22, 2021.