Today’s news:

Forest Hills’ JetBlue looks for new space around city

JetBlue Airways is looking to move up to 900 employees out of its Forest Hills headquarters, but City Hall is taking steps toward keeping the airline in the city, according to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.

Dan Andrews, Marshall’s spokesman, said the mayor’s office has been looking for space for JetBlue both in Queens and other parts of the city.

“JetBlue has been a good neighbor since its inception nearly a decade ago and we want it to stay that way,” Marshall.

It was not clear whether the 900 administrative staff employees the airline wants to move elsewhere would mean closing the Forest Hills office altogether or would still leave some personnel at that location. JetBlue is located at 118−29 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills.

JetBlue did not return calls for comment.

JetBlue was also reported to be considering ending flights to Long Beach, Calif. The Los Angeles Times reported that JetBlue was dissatisfied because Long Beach airport officials had never carried out improvements the airline had long counted on.

The business journal Crain’s New York, meanwhile, predicted JetBlue would “fly out of the red” this year after reporting a loss last year.

Meanwhile, JetBlue came in third in a new survey showing that U.S. airline performance improved last year for the first time in five years.

The Airline Quality Rating survey, conducted by Wichita State and St. Louis universities, said JetBlue rated No. 3 after Hawaiian Airlines (No.1) and AirTran (No. 2).

The survey was released Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and it reported that the industry improvement came after its worst−ever performance in 2007.

“We know the system performs better when it’s less stressed by high passenger volume,” said Dean Headley, associate professor of marketing at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State. “The economy scared away both business and leisure travelers in 2008.”

JetBlue was founded in 2000 with flight operations based at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The airline first flew to Florida cities and upstate New York cities.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e−mail at news@timesledger.com or phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 136.

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