Delta CEO Says 'Our Home Is Atlanta' As NRA-Related Politics Cloud Amazon HQ2 Bid
Atlanta-based Delta's decision to eliminate a National Rifle Association discount has drawn ire in Georgia's halls of government, but the airline is not planning to leave its longtime corporate home.
CEO Ed Bastian released a memo Friday morning explaining the airline's decision to eliminate the one-time NRA discount after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, stating, "Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this [gun control] debate."
Instead, the Republican-controlled legislature passed legislation that would remove a tax exemption worth $50M on jet fuel, targeting Delta directly for its decision on the discount. Gov. Nathan Deal has said he plans to sign the tax bill into law.
"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 wrote. "I have tremendous respect and admiration for Gov. Nathan Deal, and thank him for the work he has done on the jet fuel tax exemption. He is a great friend to Delta. I know this action by the state legislature troubled him as it does all of us."
The controversy has raised the alarms for watchers of the hotly contested race for Amazon HQ2, the 50,000-job, $5B second headquarters the tech giant intends to build. Atlanta is considered a prime contender, but a legislature that penalizes businesses' wallets for political stances is viewed as a drawback for Amazon. CEO and founder Jeff Bezos has a history of donating to Democratic causes and candidates.
"Georgia has really hurt their Amazon bids in recent weeks," University of Texas at Austin government professor Nathan Jensen told CNN. "It signals to Amazon that politicians in Georgia are more concerned about scoring points with constituents sympathetic to a particular social view than they are about whatever business or economic rationale they may have to direct benefits to a specific firm."