March 17, 2021 By Allie Griffin
JetBlue is considering pulling its headquarters from Long Island City, where it’s been for roughly a decade, according to a new report.
The airline, which brands itself as “New York’s Hometown Airline,” has been headquartered in Queens since its founding in 1999.
JetBlue, however, may move jobs out of its Long Island City headquarters, located at 27-01 Queens Plaza North, to Florida, according to an internal memo obtained 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, the Post reported.
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.
“We are exploring a number of paths, including staying in Long Island City, moving to another space in New York City, and/or shifting a to-be-determined number of [headquarter] roles to existing support centers in Florida,” the memo said, according to the Post.
The company wrote that it has more leasing options, as vacancies have increased due to the pandemic and the role of a physical office will evolve in “a hybrid work environment.”
JetBlue has taken a financial hit from COVID-19, as the number of people who have traveled over the past year has plummeted. The potential to cut costs is a big factor in its lease decisions.
The airline said it plans to make a final decision on its headquarters later this year, according to the memo cited by the Post.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said that it would be a big loss for the borough if JetBlue were to move, although he noted that when it came to Long Island City 10 years ago the company was also considering a move to Florida. It had been in Kew Gardens prior to Long Island City.
“The company has gone through this before and they choose Long Island City so I am hoping they do so again,” he said. “They bring a lot of vitality to the area and I know they are proud of their Queens connection.”
Van Bramer did not say whether the city should offer tax incentives to keep the airline here, but noted it was in the borough’s interest to have them here.
“I think the city needs to keep them here,” he said. “We have to find out what they are looking for and go from there.”