ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on Georgia lawmakers’ decision to punish Delta Air Lines for cutting ties with the National Rifle Association (all times local):
The CEO of Delta Air Lines says “we are not taking sides” in the national debate over guns despite the company’s decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association following the school massacre in Florida.
Delta released an internal memo Friday that CEO Ed Bastian sent employees after Georgia lawmakers voted to deny the Atlanta-based airline a tax break as punishment for crossing the NRA.
Bastian says: “Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this debate.”
The move backfired. The Republican-led Georgia legislature moved swiftly to eliminate a proposed tax exemption on jet fuel from a broader tax bill that passed Thursday.
State Sen. Michael Williams, a GOP candidate for governor, told “Fox & Friends” on Friday: “We had to send a message.”
Delta Air Lines has been subjected to swift political retribution in its home state of Georgia for crossing the National Rifle Association.
Republicans in the Georgia legislature voted by wide margins Thursday to kill a jet fuel tax break that would have directly benefited Atlanta-based Delta. It happened five days after the airline said it would end discounted fares to NRA members in the wake of the Feb. 14 school massacre in Florida.
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican, told reporters he hoped Delta was “better at flying airplanes than making P.R. announcements.”
The airline’s decision outraged pro-gun lawmakers. GOP Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle vowed to fight back. Republicans made good on that promise with their votes Thursday.
Critics have warned the decision to punish Delta could damage Georgia’s business-friendly reputation.