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JetBlue To Stay In New York

SAMANTHA BOMKAMP   03/22/10 05:34 PM ET   AP

Jet Blue

NEW YORK — The two-city tug-of-war over JetBlue Airways is done.

JetBlue Airways is keeping its corporate headquarters in New York City after considering a possible move to Orlando, Fla.

The company said Monday it will move about 1,000 staffers in mid-2012 from two area offices to a new location in Long Island City, in the New York City borough of Queens. The carrier's main office is currently in neighboring Forest Hills. It also has a small finance department in Darien, Conn.

The airline mulled a move out of New York for more than a year. It originally considered four other cities and recently narrowed the alternatives to Orlando, the site of its training facility.

Moving to Orlando would have meant a brand adjustment for the carrier, which calls itself "New York's Hometown Airline." JetBlue's first flight took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport on Feb. 11, 2000. It is now the biggest carrier at JFK and the seventh-largest in the country. It is the only airline based in New York.

To help persuade JetBlue to stay put, New York City offered to invest up to $3 million in the airline's Terminal 5 at Kennedy Airport and a $7 million tax exemption. The airline in turn said it will create up to 200 new jobs in the city over the next five years.

JetBlue and New York State have also agreed to a joint branding deal for the iconic "I Love NY" logo.

In an interview with The Associated Press, CEO Dave Barger said the details of that licensing agreement are still being worked out. Some possibilities include placing the logo on planes' exteriors, or adding a JetBlue logo to city or state promotional materials.

"There was a time when New York might have taken such an exercise lightly, relying on the city's reputation to win out," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. "But cities across the country and around the world are engaged in an increasingly competitive environment to attract growing companies, and – while we can't always compete on cost – we've worked extremely hard to strengthen and highlight New York City's competitive advantages."

In a news conference at New York City Hall, Barger said the cost of moving employees from New York to Orlando was a major factor in the decision to stay. The airline also didn't want to take the risk that some would choose to leave the company rather than move.

"I think its fair to say that the bulk of (the New York employees) wanted to remain in this area," Barger said.

JetBlue's new corporate offices will be in the 99-year old Brewster Building. It previously housed the company that built the first single-wing fighter plane for the Navy in World War II, nicknamed "The Brewster Buffalo."

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Associated Press Writer Sara Kugler contributed to this report.

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Filed by Priyanka Boghani  |