April 25, 2018

Delta, entangled in NRA controversy, will end discounts for 'politically divisive' groups

05 March 2018, 12:34 | Lionel James

Delta, entangled in NRA controversy, will end discounts for 'politically divisive' groups

Delta Might End All 'Politically Divisive' Group Discounts

Delta CEO Ed Bastian on Friday sent a letter to the airlines' employees, explaining the company's decision last week to end the discount it provided to National Rifle Association members in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

Delta Air Lines has withdrawn its discount offer for members of the US National Rifle Association (NRA) following the mass shooting in February at a Florida school that left 17 students and staff dead.

Delta attempted to assuage the political backlash, stating the decision to end the relationship with the NRA was created to stay above the fray in the recent fight over gun control following the mass shooting at a high school in Florida.

Lawmakers threatened to remove a jet-fuel tax break, which had an estimated $40 million benefit for Delta, from a larger tax package unless the carrier reversed course.

The state's Republican-dominated House and Senate both overwhelmingly approved the bill, which removed a sales tax exemption on jet fuel.

Why would a slew of them, fearful of the National Rifle Association, seemingly have no problem with voting to take away a $50 million tax break from Delta and risk the possibility that almost 85,000 jobs sprint across the state line, along with tens of billions of dollars for the local economy?

As the fallout with the Georgia's pro-gun lawmakers simmers, several states have tried to entice Delta to relocate its headquarters from Atlanta.

Deal, a term-limited Republican serving his final year, swiftly and quietly signed the tax bill, tweeting that he immediately wanted Georgia taxpayers to reap savings on their 2017 income tax returns.

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"Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this debate", Bastian said. Bastian also said Delta supports the Second Amendment. The House - which had passed an earlier version with the jet fuel exemption before the Delta controversy erupted - followed with a 135-24 vote.

Delta now wants to review what perks it offers to other groups.

Delta did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon about the tax bill, but Bastian thanked Deal in his March 2 memo for his work on the tax exemption.

Delta said the lawmakers misunderstood its attempt to stay neutral.

Bastian concluded by saying that he had "tremendous respect and admiration" for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, whom he claimed was "troubled" by the legislature's actions.

Atlanta losing a shot at Amazon's headquarters because of state legislation would represent a replay of that dynamic on a vastly larger scale. In a statement, he said: "Businesses have every legal right to make their own decisions, but the Republican majority in our state legislature also has every right to govern guided by our principles".

The controversy relates to political activism in the USA following a February mass shooting at a Florida high school in which 17 people were killed.

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