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JetBlue Considering Whether To Move NYC Headquarters To Florida

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- JetBlue Airways is considering whether to pack its bags and move to Florida.

The company has called New York City home since it was founded two decades in Long Island City, Queens.

The airline said in a statement its current lease expires in July 2023 and it is reviewing its options "and considering how our space requirements may evolve in a hybrid work environment post-pandemic."

JetBlue said it is exploring a number of options, including staying in its current headquarters, moving elsewhere in New York City, or shifting some New York-based jobs to existing JetBlue facilities in Florida. The airline has a training center in Orlando and a travel-products subsidiary in Fort Lauderdale.

A spokesperson for the airline said a decision is expected later this year. She said more than 1,300 employees work at the headquarters in Long Island City.

The airline said that no matter what it decides about the headquarters, it still plans to expand at all three New York City-area major airports.

The airline's plans were previously reported by the New York Post, which obtained a memo to headquarters staff.

After learning the news, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes and urged him to reconsider leaving the city.

"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 in a statement. "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. Bottom line, I am confident JetBlue will remain New York's hometown airline for a long time to come."

JetBlue began flying in 2000 and is currently the nation's sixth-largest airline by passenger-carrying capacity. Its strongest routes are up and down the East Coast. It flies to nearby international destinations including the Caribbean, and plans to launch service to London later this year.

Like other carriers, JetBlue has been hit hard by the pandemic. It lost nearly $1.4 billion last year, as revenue fell more than 63% compared with 2019.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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