After threatening to fly south, JetBlue has finally struck a deal with the City of New York to spread its wings in Long Island City, the airline, city and state announced Monday, March 22.

Following a multi-year review process that ended earlier in 2010, the carrier announced at the time that it would move its Forest Hills headquarters to Orlando or somewhere else within the five boroughs. But regardless of the outcome, the airline promised that its operational home would remain at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where just two years ago it opened a $743 million terminal.

All that became hearsay on the 22nd, however, as JetBlue Chief Dave Barger declared his company to be “New York’s Hometown Airline.”

“New York and JetBlue are made for each other,” he said.

Elected officials like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor David Paterson, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Long Island City (LIC) Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer applauded the decision and noted the positive economic impact that it will have on New York.

“The relationship between New York State and JetBlue is exactly the kind of innovative economic partnership that we have fought to deliver, especially now, at a time when our state needs it most,” Paterson said in a news release.

For his part, Bloomberg added, “The 200 jobs the company will move to and add in New York City and the new Long Island City headquarters it will build will be significant contributions to the local and citywide economies.”

Underscoring JetBlue’s commitment to Queens, Marshall said, “We couldn’t be happier.”

Along with 880 employees currently at its Forest Hills offices, JetBlue will move 70 corporate jobs from Connecticut to its forthcoming LIC headquarters in the historic Brewster Building in Queens Plaza. By 2012, the airline will occupy 200,000 square feet, thanks to a comprehensive package of economic, real estate and non-monetary benefits offered by the NYC Economic Development Corporation, NYC & Company – the city’s marketing and tourism arm – Empire State Development and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

As part of the agreement, JetBlue will have access to co-branding opportunities with the city and state as well as “I ♥ NY” license and marketing benefits. Additionally, the airline’s hub at JFK’s T5 terminal will receive a capital investment of up to $3 million to help with an expansion.

Van Bramer said he and the LIC community are elated by JetBlue’s decision, which they see as a huge investment in the area.

“It’s just going to be a real shot in the arm for the makeover that’s already in progress in the Queens Plaza area,” the Councilmember told The Courier. “And it’s another sign that businesses know that Long Island City is a great place and it’s getting better everyday.”

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