JetBlue to Remain New York’s Hometown Airline
Tags: JetBlue Airways, New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Orlando International Airport (MCO)
JetBlue Airways announced today that it is keeping its headquarters in New York City, following a year of speculation that the company might move out of the area to reduce costs.
The low-cost carrier will be moving, but only a few miles down Queens Boulevard from Forest Hills to Long Island City. Work has already begun on a new 200,000 sq ft facility inside the Brewster Building, a former automobile factory on Queens Plaza. Standing in the shadow of the Queensborough Bridge, the historic 100-year-old building was most recently occupied by MetLife.
About 880 jobs at the airline’s current Forest Hills headquarters, along with another 70 finance employees in Darien, Conn. will be condensed into the new space. A statement from the Governor’s office said 130 employees will be added over the next five years.
Orlando, Fla. had been the leading contender to lure JetBlue away from New York. JetBlue already operates a training facility in Orlando and had moved their technology operations from New York to Orlando in the past year, fueling the speculation that the entire company would move there. The State of Florida, along with city and county officials, had offered financial incentives in an attempt to entice jetBlue to make the long move south, including several million dollars to build a new headquarters on land adjacent to their existing training facility.
But after learning only about half of their New York employees would be willing to relocate to Florida, the airline’s management decided that a move would not be in their best interests.
JetBlue’s decision to stay is a major victory for New York government officials, who have been under pressure to make the city and state more business-friendly amidst the recession and rising unemployment. In a press conference this afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the city offered its own incentive package, including a $3 million capital investment in JetBlue’s recently-completed Terminal 5 at JFK. State incentives include a deal to allow jetBlue to use the iconic “I ♥ NY” slogan and logo in branding materials.
Founded 10 years ago in Kew Gardens, NY and hubbed at Kennedy Airport, JetBlue will remain the only major commercial airline based in New York.