NEW YORK, NY (September 24, 2008) – A special deal between the Port Authority and JetBlue Airways will take effect when the airline opens its new Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport on October 1. JetBlue, which will operate the new terminal, has not guaranteed uninterrupted passenger services and revenues to the terminal. This is a change of course from the Port Authority’s requirements for American, Continental, Delta and British Airways.
Absent an agreement, interruptions are a real possibility, considering 40 members of UNITE HERE stand to lose their jobs in the process. Resulting labor unrest at the terminal could prove costly.
“The Port Authority needs to hold JetBlue to the same commitments other airlines and their retail tenants have made,” said UNITE HERE general president Bruce Raynor. “New York travelers should be able to count on all businesses living up to the standards our government creates.”
“In today’s struggling airline market, terminal revenues, such as rent from retail concessions, are often used to cover airlines’ terminal costs,” said UNITE HERE Airport Group policy analyst Erica Bader. “If those non-airline rents were to be interrupted, JetBlue would have few places to look other than core airline revenues to make up the difference. Higher ticket prices may be a part of that.”
On September 23 outside of Port Authority headquarters, Democratic nominee for New York State Senate Daniel Squadron joined labor and community groups in a public demonstration calling on the Port Authority and JetBlue Airways to level the playing field for airlines at area airports.
“JetBlue wants to be released from a policy that was enacted to make sure services are always available to passengers,” said Daniel Squadron. “The Port Authority cannot waive this policy for one airline and force passengers to pick up the tab.”
UNITE HERE represents 30,000 workers at 73 airports in the United States and Canada.