JetBlue founder snubs high-cost New York for new startup's HQ

The startup may bring nearly 400 jobs to the area over 5 years

JetBlue founder David Neeleman’s new airline has found its home — and it's nowhere near New York City.

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The airline mogul's startup Breeze Aviation will be based out of Salt Lake City, which is more than 2,000 miles away from JetBlue's headquarters in Long Island City, a neighborhood in New York City's borough of Queens.

In 2020, Neeleman's startup plans to unveil a low-cost carrier that is said to provide nonstop service from secondary airports, according to public officials in Utah.

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“Breeze Aviation’s headquarters operation will be a welcome addition to Utah’s growing aerospace industry,” said Val Hale, executive director of Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “We’re excited to partner with an experienced team with such an outstanding track record.”

The startup is said to bring nearly 400 jobs to the area over the course of five years, Utah officials said. The company also plans to spend a capital investment of $3.2 million, according to officials, who added that the state is expected to provide nearly $1.1 million worth of tax rebates over five years in return.

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The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the region's airports, and JetBlue did not immediately return FOX Business’ requests for comment.

The decision comes after Neeleman’s successors reportedly complained about the high cost of having its main hub reside in New York, Yahoo Finance reports.

JetBlue’s headquarters have remained in New York City since the American low-cost airline was founded in the late '90s. The location is conveniently in close proximity to John F. Kennedy International Airport, where the largest base of its operations is housed, according to the company.

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However, JetBlue, which dubs itself “New York’s hometown airline," debated moving to Florida before its lease was up in 2012 but eventually stayed due to incentives from the state.

Lukas Johnson, who was hired by Neeleman to lead commercial strategy for the startup, said the decision to put the airline in Utah was an easy one, according to Yahoo Finance.

“People can be working and living everywhere,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t make sense to be trying to hire in the highest cost of living places. It doesn’t make a ton of sense for a competitive business.”

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