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Sen. Chuck Schumer personally pleaded with JetBlue’s boss not to shrink the budget airline’s Big Apple workforce as it weighs shipping jobs to Florida, The Post has learned.
The senior New York senator said he made his case on a phone call with JetBlue Chief Executive Robin Hayes Wednesday evening — a day after The Post exclusively reported that the carrier was considering whether to move some jobs from its Long Island City headquarters to existing offices in the Sunshine State.
On Thursday, Schumer told The Post he wanted to remind Hayes that “JetBlue’s roots and its future are here in New York.” He also pointed out the billions of dollars in federal aid that airlines like it have received during the coronavirus crisis.
“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,” the Democratic Senate majority leader told The Post in a Thursday statement.
“Bottom line, I am confident JetBlue will remain New York’s hometown airline for a long time to come.”
JetBlue says it has not yet determined how many corporate jobs it may shift to Florida, home to its Orlando training center and the Fort Lauderdale headquarters of its travel products subsidiary.
It may also choose to keep its more than 1,300 Long Island City staffers where they are or move to another office in the Big Apple after its current lease expires in July 2023, the carrier told NYC workers in a March 11 memo that The Post obtained.
JetBlue is mulling the move after taking nearly $1.5 billion in federal grants and loans to keep its workers on the payroll as the COVID-19 pandemic battered airlines around the world, according to US Treasury data.
Lawmakers extended the industry another $14 billion lifeline under the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that President Biden signed just last week, Schumer’s office said.
Schumer pointed to JetBlue’s long history in the Empire State in urging the company to maintain its more than 7,000 jobs here. The airline decided to keep its HQ in New York in 2010 even after Orlando tried to woo it away.
“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,” Schumer said.
JetBlue did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. But the airline has insisted that it’s committed to New York while pointing to its plans to grow its presence at Newark and LaGuardia airports.
“Regardless of how we re-balance our footprint between New York and Florida, our commitment to New York remains strong,” JetBlue said in last week’s memo.
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