But only 13 NRA members actually used the one-time group travel discount for the gun groups annual meeting in Dallas this May, Delta spokesman Michael Thomas told The Washington Post on Saturday.
Our discounted travel benefit for NRA members could be seen as Delta implicitly endorsing the NRA. That is not the case, Bastian said Friday in a memo to employees. While Deltas intent was to remain neutral, some elected officials in Georgia tied our decision to a pending jet-fuel tax exemption, threatening to eliminate it unless we reversed course. Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale.
That amounts to costing Delta just over $3 million per passenger for the apparently rarely used services, a consequence from public pressure on businesses to cut ties with the NRA following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead on Valentines Day.
Video: Republicans Retaliate Against Delta To Protect The NRA
Police say the gunman used a legally acquired AR-15 — a rifle touted as being American as apple pie by the NRA, the countrys chief gun lobby.
Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian announced the policy review a day after the states lawmakers, angry at Deltas stance on the gun-rights group, punished the airline by removing a tax exemption on jet fuel from a fiscal bill. Delta discontinued the NRAs special arrangement Feb. 24 in the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
[ Rental cars, hearing aids, insurers: Since Parkland, a list of companies that have taken action on guns ]
The NRAs main Twitter account, quiet in the days after the Parkland killings, pointed Friday toward reports that only 13 NRA members used the Delta discount.
Delta controls 73 per cent of the market at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, while Southwest Airlines Co. has 11 per cent. No other carrier has more than 5 percent of the airports passengers, according to the U.S. Transportation Department.
Video: Delta Airlines loses tax break over anti-NRA stance
They have a backlash that will span across all gun owners, not just NRA members.. seems logical, the account tweeted. The organization linked to a Business Insider story collecting tweets of angry gun owners and NRA members beginning boycotts of their own, suggesting a backlash to the backlash that may cost Delta more down the line.
For Delta, the decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale, Delta chief executive Ed Bastian said in the statement Friday, released the day after the lawmakers followed through with their promise by overwhelmingly voting to rescind the tax breaks. Bastian said the company will further review other discounts offered to groups with a politically divisive nature and end those agreements, as well.
None of this changes the fact that our home is Atlanta and we are proud and honored to locate our headquarters here. And we are supporters of the 2nd Amendment, just as we embrace the entire Constitution of the United States, Bastian said in the statement.
Bastian said it was in response to controversial statements following the killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and that he did not want the discount to imply a company endorsement of the NRA, appearing to describe group statements like one video that suggested the media loves mass shootings as rating and website view draws.
NRA discount that triggered Delta showdown was barely used
Deltas announcement led to threats from GOP lawmakers led by Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) to either reverse its decision or risk losing the lucrative tax break.
The Georgia legislature on Thursday approved a bill stripping a $50 million sales tax exemption from the airline, which is headquartered in Atlanta. Governor Nathan Deal is reportedly prepared to sign the bill into law. The move came in retaliation for Deltas decision last week to cancel a discount program with the NRA amid a growing political furor over gun control. Deltas CEO on Friday responded, stating in part that our values are not for sale, while claiming that Delta was mostly trying to distance itself from the gun debate.
Publicly slighting millions of NRA members isnt good for business — or America
Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back, he said in a Monday tweet.
I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA. Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.
Atlanta losing a shot at Amazons headquarters because of state legislation would represent a replay of that dynamic on a vastly larger scale. And thats not all Atlanta has to worry about – politicians from Virginia, New York, and Ohio have all reached out to invite Delta to relocate their headquarters. Thats extremely unlikely, but speaks to just how much damage could follow from Georgias use of tax policy to side with the NRA against business.
I hope they are better at flying airplanes than timing P.R. announcements, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican, said after his chamber voted for final approval on the bill that stripped away the tax breaks. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) on Wednesday called the Delta controversy an unbecoming squabble but said he would sign the tax bill as presented to him.
The NRA has lashed out at companies cutting ties to the group as a shameful display of political and civic cowardice. But it also downplayed the importance of Deltas action, saying the loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission.
Other companies have responded to public outcry by restricting sales of guns and firearms accessories. Dicks Sporting Goods announced Wednesday it will end the sale of assault-style rifles and prohibit the sale of any guns to people under the age of 21. The alleged Parkland gunman, Nikolas Cruz, purchased a gun at a Dicks outlet, but it was not the AR-15 police say was used in the killings.
Naked politics of punishing Delta could haunt Georgia
Walmart made a similar decision on Wednesday to raise the minimum age for gun purchases and ammunition to 21 from 18. It banned the sale of AR-15 rifles in 2015 but said it was removing items that resembled the weapon, including toys.
Gun analysts have said recent corporate decisions will probably not dent the wide availability of guns in the United States and that NRA members are motivated to join to protect their own values rather than pursue financial benefits, The Posts Marc Fisher reported.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated that Walmart would no longer sell ammunition in response to public outcry. The company said it would raise the minimum age to purchase ammunition to 21 from 18. This version has been corrected.
Perspective: These gun stores are not following Dicks and Walmarts decision to restrict sales
Delta isnt the only company to take action since the Feb. 14 slayings of 17 students and educators in Parkland, Florida, by a gunman armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle. Walmart, Kroger and Dicks Sporting Goods have tightened their gun sales policies. Meanwhile, MetLife, Hertz and others have joined Delta in ending business ties with the NRA.
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On guns, companies are getting out ahead of the politicians
When the lights went out at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in December, stranding thousands of travelers across the nation, some feared the incident and embarrassing national media coverage had exposed a vulnerability as Atlanta bid for Amazon HQ2.
Now several weeks later, the Georgia Legislature just told the airport snafu to hold its beer, we might top that.
"We cannot continue to allow large companies to treat conservatives differently than other customers, employees and partners," Cagle wrote in an opinion piece published by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The voters who elected us and believe strongly in our rights and liberties expect and deserve no less."
Delta To Georgia Lawmakers: Our Values Are Not For Sale
The spat over Delta Air Lines’ decision to end a discount program for NRA members and a contentious religious liberty bill pending under the Gold Dome have combined to cast another harsh glare on the Peach State.
Delta fighting to stay out of gun debate and is not taking sides by scrapping NRA discounts, says chief executive
How state leaders attempt to move on from the Delta impasse, and whether lawmakers go forward with an adoption bill that would allow taxpayer-funded agencies to turn away gay couples, could determine whether election year politics cause a permanent dent in Georgia’s reputation, and give companies excuses to take Georgia off their lists, business experts say.
“Our reputation now is as the best state to do business,” said Ken Bernhardt, a marketing consultant and a professor emeritus at Georgia State University. “We don’t want to lose that.”
Many states face contentious proposals from the left and right that attract national headlines, and they typically don’t alter public perception — unless they’re enacted, Bernhardt said.
A Delta Air Lines spokesman confirmed that only 13 members of the National Rifle Association bought discounted tickets using a perk that the airline later withdrew, in the wake of Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said Friday the discounted fares had been available for a short time and were only for NRA members purchasing flights to the groups 2018 convention in Dallas.
Business leaders say they fear the broader message being sent that lawmakers aren’t above trying to influence or retaliate against business decisions.
Mr. Trump has floated arming teachers, raising the age for buying a gun to 21, strengthening background checks and doing more about the mentally ill. But exactly what the president wants to do on guns has left Congress perplexed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has said his chamber will not take up any gun legislation next week.
Delta not backing off NRA stance despite tax hit by Georgia
“Businesses should be allowed to make the decisions that are in the overall best interest of shareholders, employees and customers, without political interference on those decisions,” Bernhardt said. “If businesses start thinking about how they run their business being influenced by politicians, that could be detrimental.”
Top Republican state leaders have downplayed the tussle with the state’s largest private employer and how it might reflect on the state’s pursuit of companies like Amazon.
After NRA boycott backlash, Delta Air Lines will end discounts for politically divisive groups
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who’s running for governor, touted the state’s full pipeline of economic development prospects and said the debate highlighted Georgia’s diversity of opinion.
Delta, now entangled in controversy, says it sold just 13 tickets under NRA discount
Rick Jeffares, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, wrote in an op-ed he sent to supporters that companies look to Georgia for its conservatism, not in spite of it.
Delta reviewing ties with all politically divisive groups after NRA controversy
+ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Gov. Nathan Deal held a press conference to address the jet fuel tax cut issue after the Senate Rules Committee stripped the Delta tax cut from legislation. BOB ANDRES /[email protected] × Gov. Nathan Deal held a press conference to address the jet fuel tax cut issue after the Senate Rules Committee stripped … read more “Changing who we are in order to become more politically correct to liberal, coastal values would have the eventual effect of driving businesses elsewhere,” Jeffares wrote. “Our conservative values have led to low taxes, balanced budgets, AAA bond ratings, high quality of life and our status as a right to work state.”
Georgia has won businesses driven away from more liberal places, he said.
The national spotlight is shining as Amazon scrutinizes Atlanta and 19 other communities on its shortlist for its second headquarters project and the promise of 50,000 jobs. Apple is also lurking with plans for a major U.S. expansion.
Delta said it made the move to end a discount offer for members of the National Rifle Association in order to remain neutral in the wrenching gun debate that re-ignited after a deadly Valentine’s Day school shooting in Florida. State Republican lawmakers, offended by Delta’s action, were unmoved and stripped a jet fuel tax break for airlines from a broader tax bill.
Delta says NRA discount was only used for 13 tickets
+ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, told employees in a memo that the companys values are not for sale, following a move by state lawmakers to drop an airline tax break for jet fuel. The move came after Delta upset many Republican leaders by ending a discount offer for National Rifle Association members in the wake of a deadly Florida school shooting. Hyosub Shin / [email protected] × Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, told employees in a memo that the companys values are not for sale, following … read more Deal on Friday signed the overarching tax overhaul. He said days earlier he would do so without the jet fuel tax cut he’d championed, but he also slammed lawmakers for their antics, which have made the state the butt of jokes on late night TV.
But a new fight is looming. The adoption measure, Senate Bill 375, recently cleared that chamber. It’s pitted socially conservative lawmakers against businesses and LGBT rights groups, and awaits consideration in the House.
The adoption bill, business leaders say, threatens some of the state’s thriving industries, including hospitality and film.
“We have to always remember that Georgia is a conservative state. Metro Atlanta is more liberal,” said Kendra King Momon, an Oglethorpe University political science professor. “We’re in the Bible Belt, as progressive as we are, and I think some of the bills before the Legislature show the disconnect” between the rural and urban parts of the state.
Atlanta, riding a wave of big tech jobs announcements by NCR, Anthem and Honeywell, is viewed as a top contender on Amazon’s shortlist.
A skilled workforce and talent pipeline, educational systems, business costs and transportation infrastructure tend to be among the top factors businesses weigh when choosing a headquarters site, experts say. Georgia has touted all of those in its bid for HQ2.
Flyers, graffiti in Atlanta protest Amazon and HQ2
Amazon included “cultural fit” among its list of criteria within its request for proposals for HQ2. The company touts its perfect score from LGBTQ-rights group Human Rights Campaign, as do many national and Atlanta area corporate giants.
Backers of the adoption bill have said it’s needed to encourage faith-based agencies to open in the state, and will lead to more adoptions. LGBT groups have strongly criticized that characterization.
Gay rights groups already put a target on Georgia’s back for its lack of civil rights protections for the LGBT community, though the city of Atlanta does have civil rights legislation.
Some in Hollywood also have called for boycotts of the Peach State if the adoption bill is signed into law.
Delta: We are not taking sides in gun debate
+ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, center, talks with Sen. Ellis Black, R – Valdosta, in the Senate Chamber during Legislative on Feb. 26, 2018, at the Georgia State Capitol. Cagle was successful in his vow to kill a tax break for airlines, including Atlanta-based Delta, after Delta upset many Republican leaders by ending a discount offer for National Rifle Association members in the wake of a deadly Florida school shooting. PHOTO / JASON GETZ × Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, center, talks with Sen. Ellis Black, R – Valdosta, in the Senate Chamber during Legislative on Feb. … read more State. Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, said the measure would provide protections to faith-based groups, and it would not prevent gay couples from finding adoption services in the state.
“This does not close the door on anyone adopting a child, but opposing it could close the door on a child being adopted,” Ligon said.
Ligon said he doesn’t believe the state’s reputation has been harmed by recent debates.
“I’m not concerned about it at all. I don’t think it will,” he said. “I think sometimes that narrative is blown out of proportion.”
John Boyd, a site selection expert and principal at the Boyd Company in New Jersey, said Fortune 500 companies scrutinize states on social issues.
Delta Will Review Politically Divisive Discounts After NRA Fallout
Companies battle one another for talent, and corporations want to operate in markets where their employees will be welcomed. Some business leaders from more liberal areas in the north and west carry misgivings about a conservative state such as Georgia.
When Indiana passed a religious liberty bill, conventions pulled out, Angie’s List halted a plan to add hundreds of jobs in Indianapolis, and the state was the subject of a boycott before lawmakers reversed course and inserted language in the bill to state that it could not be used to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation.
In North Carolina, the NBA pulled its All-Star Game from Charlotte, and PayPal pumped the brakes on a project after lawmakers in Raleigh approved a controversial bathroom bill.
After Indiana’s religious liberty fight, Metro Atlanta Chamber officials held meetings with their counterparts at the Indy Chamber about the Hoosier State’s religious liberty battle. The warning from Indiana business leaders was frank: Don’t go there.
Delta: NRA discount used for only 13 tickets
In a bit of irony, Indianapolis, Raleigh and Atlanta are among the 20 communities vying for HQ2.
Scott Taylor, president of the Atlanta real estate development firm Carter, said the state has a well-earned reputation for being “open, inclusive and extremely competitive as a place to do business.”
Delta CEO Ed Bastian on NRA flap: Our values are not for sale
“Gov. Deal and his team have done an incredible job shaping this narrative and delivering strong results,” Taylor said. “Anything that detracts from this brand is potentially quite harmful.”
AJC Business reporter J. Scott Trubey keeps you updated on the latest news about economic development and commercial real estate in metro Atlanta and beyond. Youll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:
Delta Airlines Only Sold 13 Tickets at NRA Discount Rate
· Krog Street Market developer plans redo of aging Atlanta hotela
· Secrecy surrounding Amazon HQ2 bid keeps Georgians in the dark
· Renderings show planned new look of Underground Atlanta
Atlanta is one of the cities Amazon says is in the running for its next headquarters. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will provide continuing coverage of Atlanta’s bid to lure Amazon. Our journalism will focus on the urgent questions posed by this potentially transformative business deal.
Delta hit with a sea of angry customers after it bans NRA discounts
Follow this continuing coverage on AJC.com, MyAJC.com and PoliticallyGeorgia.com.
Pre-select meal option on Delta One added for Atlanta, JFK flights
Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, told employees in a memo that the companys values are not for sale, following a move by state lawmakers to drop an airline tax break for jet fuel. The move came after Delta upset many Republican leaders by ending a discount offer for National Rifle Association members in the wake of a deadly Florida school shooting. Hyosub Shin / [email protected]
Gov. Nathan Deal held a press conference to address the jet fuel tax cut issue after the Senate Rules Committee stripped the Delta tax cut from legislation. BOB ANDRES /[email protected]
J. SCOTT TRUBEY J. Scott Trubey covers economic development and commercial real estate. He joined the AJC in 2010.