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Delta Might End All 'Politically Divisive' Group Discounts

Delta Might End All 'Politically Divisive' Group Discounts

The head of Delta Airlines is speaking out on his companies decision cut ties with the National Rifle Association, one day after Georgia's governor said he would sign a bill depriving Delta of a hefty tax break.

In a memo to employees posted to its website, Delta addressed the weeklong uproar surrounding its decision last week to no longer offer a travel discount to NRA members after a February 14 massacre of 17 students and educators at a Florida high school reignited the nation's long-running debate on gun ownership laws.

"I hope they are better at flying airplanes than timing P.R. announcements", Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican, said after his chamber gave final approval to a larger tax-cut bill that was stripped of the jet fuel tax exemption.

Critics of the GOP effort to retaliate against Delta have warned it could backfire by harming Georgia's ability to lure businesses - including Amazon, which recently named Atlanta a finalist in its search for a second headquarters.

The airline had been under attack from gun-rights activists since Saturday, when it abruptly discontinued flight discounts to the NRA's annual convention and asked the gun-rights group to remove the information about the perk from the convention material. "Delta supports all of its customers but will not support organizations on any side of any highly charged political issue that divides our nation". Now, Bastian said, it will drop them.

"We can not 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.

Delta announced this week that it would stop offering discounted fares to NRA members amid the national gun-control debate after the deadly Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. "That is not the case", Chief Executive Ed Bastian wrote in the memo to employees.

Bastian indicated the airline was in the process of a review to end group discounts "for any group of a politically divisive nature".

Immediately afterward, Georgia's Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Republican and staunch NRA ally, said he would "kill" legislation to give the airline a sales tax exemption on jet fuel.

By a non-unanimous voice vote, the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday passed a sweeping tax cut proposal that no longer includes a lucrative sales tax exemption on jet fuel.

"I know this action by the state legislature troubled him as it does all of us", Bastian wrote. Meanwhile, MetLife, Hertz and others have joined Delta in ending business ties with the NRA.

His political ally, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, publicly offered the NRA the use of the arena he owns in Park City.

Bastian said in the memo that the carrier is proud to be headquartered in Georgia, where the airline employs 33,000 people statewide.

He added: "And we are supporters of the 2nd Amendment, just as we embrace the entire Constitution of the United States".

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