March 19, 2021 By Allie Griffin
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer urged the CEO of JetBlue to keep more than a thousand Long Island City-based corporate jobs in New York City after it was reported Tuesday that the airline was considering a move to Florida.
Schumer put in a phone call to CEO Robin Hayes after reading a report that the airline was weighing the option of moving corporate positions out of state ahead of its lease expiration at 27-01 Queens Plaza North in Long Island City.
JetBlue, which brands itself as “New York’s Hometown Airline,” has been headquartered in Queens since its founding in 1999, but that could soon change, according to an internal memo cited by the New York Post.
The company wrote in a March 11 memo to staffers that it is eyeing alternative options ahead of July 2023 when its lease in Long Island City is up.
Those options including sending corporate staff to the sunshine state, where the airline has a training center in Orlando and another headquarters in Fort Lauderdale–or moving into a different borough, according to the article.
Still, JetBlue didn’t rule out staying in Long Island City, where more than 1,300 employees are based.
Schumer, who has had dealings with the airline since its inception, implored Hayes to keep the 1,300 headquarter jobs right where they are.
“The purpose of my call to Mr. Hayes was simply to remind him that JetBlue’s roots and its future are here in New York,” Schumer said. “With the critical pandemic relief dollars we just delivered on to help save airlines like JetBlue, and the thousands and thousands of New Yorkers they already employ, the airline should actually clear the runway to grow here, not recede.”
Schumer noted the $14 billion in direct aid to the airline industry he helped pass in the newest stimulus package on his call with Hayes.
JetBlue had considered moving to the sunshine state once before — about 10 years ago, but instead landed on Long Island City. It had originally been headquartered in Kew Gardens.
“The company has gone through this before and they choose Long Island City so I am hoping they do so again,” local Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said earlier this week. “They bring a lot of vitality to the area and I know they are proud of their Queens connection.”
Schumer said he was confident the airline will stay true to its NYC roots.
“JetBlue has always said it best: since their start up in 1998, to their first flight from JFK in 2000, their home, heart and soul have always remained in New York,” he said. “Bottom line, I am confident JetBlue will remain New York’s hometown airline for a long time to come.”