Forest Hills’ JetBlue moves headquarters across street

By Tien-Shun Lee

JetBlue Airways Corp. recently moved into a new, 112,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Forest Hills, which is triple the size of its old location across the street.

The company, founded in January 2000, had moved into the former headquarters at 80-02 Kew Gardens Rd. before it even began operating flights. At the time, about 100 employees occupied the building.

“During our three years there, we continued to acquire more floors and ended up with three or four floors there,” said Gareth Edmondson-Jones, a spokesman for Jet Blue. “We ran out of space in that building, so we looked across the road, across Queens Boulevard, and found this space — six floors — at a better price.”

The new headquarters occupies the second through sixth floors, and eighth floor of the Forest Hills Tower building at 118-29 Queens Blvd. The subleased space was acquired from the telecommunications company RCN Corp.

About 300 employees moved into the new headquarters during November and December, including about 50 employees from Kennedy Airport.

Unlike the old headquarters, the new corporate space includes meeting rooms, offices and training areas.

“It does reflect the growth of JetBlue, absolutely,” said Edmonson-Jones. “It reflects our planning for the future … our last seven quarters have been profitable, and we’ve basically doubled in size from this time last year.”

The airline has 37 aircraft and operates 125 domestic flights daily from Kennedy Airport. The company as a whole has about 4,000 employees, quadruple the number it had three years ago.

In addition to its corporate headquarters in New York, JetBlue also has employee bases in Darien, Conn., Salt Lake City, and at 20 airports around the country.

This year the airline added two new routes, from JFK to San Juan, P.R., and from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. In addition, it added more service to existing routes, especially to its popular winter routes from New York to Florida.

“What we’ve found is that our percentage of seats filled is the highest in the industry, which tells us we need to keep adding flights to our existing routes,” said Edmonson-Jones.

The company has flown close to 6 million people this year, and expects to fly its 10 millionth customer on New Year’s Eve, he added.

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 229-0300, ext. 155.

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