JetBlue sparks outrage with planned NYC flyover in tribute to healthcare workers: 'This is triggering for New Yorkers'

Flyover will take place tonight at 7pm

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 07 May 2020 22:25 BST
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JetBlue to fly passenger planes over New York in tribute to healthcare workers (Getty)
JetBlue to fly passenger planes over New York in tribute to healthcare workers (Getty)

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JetBlue is facing criticism after announcing plans to have three passenger planes fly over New York City at a low altitude in honour of healthcare workers.

The airline says its 'I love NY, NYPD and FDNY' planes will join the daily #ClapBecauseWeCare tribute on Thursday “with a flyover salute for our hometown healthcare heroes and first responders.”

“So, keep your eyes up, and keep a healthy distance from others while watching,” the airline said on Twitter.

According to the New York Police Department, the planes will be flying at an altitude of approximately 2,000ft as they pass over Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.

On social media, news of the upcoming tribute was met with backlash from New Yorkers, who questioned whether the airline realised that the low altitude of the planes over New York City could be triggering for those who witnessed the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, when two Boeing 767s crashed into the World Trade Center towers.

The tribute will reportedly see the planes circle Ground Zero as they fly over lower Manhattan, the location of the terrorist attack.

“Um. Why? Low-flying passenger aircraft in New York? REALLY?!? May I direct you to any write up/video of 9/11 to explain what a terrible idea this is?” one person tweeted. “Please, @JetBlue, just figure out how much this is going to cost and donate the money to buying PPE for our medical heroes.”

Another wrote: “Flying passenger jets low over New York City is max tone-deaf.”

Journalist Kristin Chirico directed her concern at the airline, writing: “Hi, this is going to be traumatising, insensitive, and wasteful, please do not do this, you still have time to stop.”

Additional criticism over the planned tribute stemmed from the cost of the fuel required to fly the planes, as well as the environmental impact of the unnecessary travel.

“Why are you wasting fuel? This doesn’t help anyone,” one person tweeted, while another said: “Please stop. This is a waste of money in a time when so many folks don't have enough.”

According to Business Insider, an Airbus A320, the planes set to be used for the tribute, “burn about 3,000 pounds of fuel per hour while cruising”.

However, according to the airline, “the flyover is being operated at no cost to JetBlue”.

“The airline thanks its partners at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, JetBlue Air Line Pilots Association, CarbonFund.org and a fuel provider,” JetBlue said in a 6 May statement.

In the same statement, the company noted that it had “flown more than 1,400 medical professionals to New York City and other destinations to help in relief efforts” and has also donated cots, blankets and amenity kits to Mount Sinai hospitals throughout New York City in an effort to help keep healthcare workers rested between shifts.

The aviation-themed tribute to healthcare professionals working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in New York City comes after the US Air Force’s Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, and the US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, performed formation flights over the tri-state area last month.

The Independent has contacted JetBlue for comment.

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