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Delta rethinks discounts for `divisive' groups after NRA fracas

05 March 2018, 12:35 | Melanie Burgess

Delta Ended NRA Discounts. Now Georgia Is Stripping the Airline of a $40 Million Tax Break

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A day after political fallout came down from Georgia on Delta Air Lines (DAL -0.6%) over ending some NRA discounts, the company's CEO says "we are not taking sides" in the gun debate.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the Atlanta company would not rescind its cancellation of discounts for those with an NRA membership, HuffPost reported Friday.

He announced that he was going to "punish Delta" for "punishing gun rights people" by threatening to block a proposed jet fuel tax break that Gov. Nathan Deal had proposed for our state's largest employer.

Despite that, the Delta memo says the company will keep its headquarters in Atlanta.

On March 1, the Georgia House and Georgia Senate (both Republican controlled) approved the bill without the tax exemption by a large margin. "Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the N.R.A. was to remove Delta from this debate". But the group had also downplayed the importance of Delta's action, saying the "loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission". "Corporations can not attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back", he posted on social media. However, he said he would push for a jet-fuel tax exemption separately, according to MarketWatch.

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As a result of the spat between Georgia and Delta, Governors from Connecticut, New York and Virginia have publicly offered their states as possible new homes for the airline.

"I had some discussions with several Democrats and they said, well, 'What if Delta chooses a group I'm affiliated with next time to not give the discount to?' And they agreed that it was discrimination no matter how it was spun", Kirk explained. But GOP lawmakers' willingness to use public money to try to intimidate corporations could damage Georgia's ability to attract new industry - including Amazon, which recently named metro Atlanta a finalist for its coveted second headquarters. "The decision followed the NRA's controversial statements after the recent school shootings in Florida".

Lawmakers were upset that Delta, which is headquartered in Atlanta, dropped the National Rifle Association from a discount-fare program in an effort to appear neutral on gun policy. 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". "Unfortunately, we're looking at political gamesmanship, and trying to send ultraconservative messages for the Republican primary", said Senator Steve Henson, the minority leader.

"That is not the case", Bastian wrote.

Last weekend, Delta, which employs 33,000 Georgians, announced its decision to cut ties with the gun rights group, after the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead.



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