May 9, 2009

JetBlue may leave NYC headquarters

JetBlue might decide to leave its New York corporate headquarters if the city does not give the airline a reason to stay, sources told the New York Daily News.

The newspaper reported Saturday that the discount airline wants incentives to remain in its Queens corporate headquarters after its lease expires in 2012.

The company is considering five potential corporate locations. The newspaper said the city has until Tuesday to deliver an offer to JetBlue.

They are serious about leaving, said U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y. They want to be sure that the city of New York is really interested in keeping them here.

Meeks said the best shot at keeping the airline in the city is to help finance the construction of a new JetBlue building near Kennedy Airport, where it opened its $743 million Terminal 5 in October.

City officials have refused to discuss specifics of the offer it plans to make to the airline.

We have a proposal that we will be submitting to JetBlue and we remain deeply committed to helping them continue to grow and thrive in New York City, said David Lombino, a spokesman for the city Economic Development Corp.

Alan Bender, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., said moving JetBlue's headquarters would not be earth-shattering to the city's economy.

The vast majority of people (at JetBlue) are pilots and flight attendants, he said. Those people are still going to be in New York, because that's where JetBlue has by far the most flights.