Just how stubborn is Delta Airlines about agreeing to bow to pressure and eliminate the National Rifle Association from a discount-fare program?
This stubborn: after the Georgia legislature removed a $40 million jet-fuel tax break to punish Delta for caving to gun control advocates, airline spokesman Trebor Banstetter admitted that only 13 passengers ever bought tickets using an NRA discount.
That means each discount cost Delta roughly $3 million in tax breaks.
On Friday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian announced that the company had not jettisoned the idea to end the discount connected to the NRA and was still considering its decision, asserting, “We are in the process of a review to end group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature.”
Meanwhile, there is a battle among GOP gubernatorial candidates to take credit for the legislature’s decision to punish Delta.
On Monday, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running in the GOP primary for governor, tweeted, “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.”
But on Friday, state Sen. Michael Williams, who is also running for governor, told Fox & Friends, “He didn’t have the gumption to say that until the Senate as a body, at least the Republican caucus, united and told him that we weren’t going to support it. We had to send a message that we’re not going to support crony capitalism in Georgia.”
Bastian said, “Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale. This decision followed the NRA’s controversial statements after the recent school shootings in Florida. Our discounted travel benefit for NRA members could be seen as Delta implicitly endorsing the NRA. That is not the case … our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this debate.”
Representatives from other states made offers to Delta to move its headquarters from Atlanta, but Bastian responded, “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.”