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Airline May Move To Orlando

JetBlue considering moving to Florida

Josh Hafenbrack  Jan 20, 2010

Gov. Charlie Crist and the chief executive of JetBlue Airways said Tuesday the company is considering moving its headquarters from New York to Orlando.

"We'd love to have JetBlue move to Florida and fortunately, that's under pretty serious consideration," Crist told reporters in an impromptu press conference outside the Governor's Mansion Tuesday evening.

"It could mean 800 new jobs in the Orlando area," Crist said.

Dave Barger, CEO of JetBlue, met privately with the governor earlier and noted JetBlue already has its training facility in Orlando.

"We're taking a hard look at relocation," he said. The decision is to whether move up to 800 jobs from New York to Orlando "or, candidly, remaining in New York," Barger said.

Greater Orlando is "arguably one of the greatest airports in the world," said Barger, who said his airline flies from seven cities and has more than 1,000 weekly departures from Florida. "We also employ 2,000 crew members in the state in Florida. Our commitment has been genuine, is genuine, regardless of the decision."

"Certainly cost is a deciding factor," Barger said. "This is an airline that has right now, 800-plus crew members in New York. As we look at relocation or separation efforts, there's cost associated with that if people elected not to move. We're an airline that focuses on culture -- we do not furlough, we do not lay off. We take care of our people. And so there's a signifigant cost."

Barger also they'll also look at what he called "adjacencies," saying he'd love to be located next to the training center in Orlando.

Barger added that JetBlue is the largest domestic airline at JFK airport in New York and the "history" his company has there is also a factor. Crist said he's working through Enterprise Florida and his own economic development office to offer financial incentives.

"This would be huge economic development in our state. There always is the chance to provide money as an enducement," Crist said. "We want to review what the revenues look like going into the next legislative session, what additional incentives we might be able to provide."

Barger said the decision is down to New York and Orlando. "The term we use is, we're in a jump ball at this point," he said.

JetBlue considering moving to Florida
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