Georgia's lieutenant governor says he will 'kill' Delta tax break unless airline reinstates relationship with NRA

  • Delta and United over the weekend said they would end airfare discounts for an upcoming NRA conference.
  • Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he'd "kill" any tax law that benefits Delta unless it reinstates its relationship with the NRA.
  • Airlines joined a list of other companies that ended perks for NRA members in the wake of the Parkland high school massacre.

Republican politicians in Delta Air Lines' home state of Georgia are striking back at the airline after it decided to scrap discounted airfare for participants in an upcoming National Rifle Association meeting.

"I will kill any tax legislation that benefits Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with the NRA," tweeted Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, referring to a bill that could save Delta taxes on jet fuel. "Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back."

Delta Airlines passenger planes at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Robert Alexander | Getty Images
Delta Airlines passenger planes at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Atlanta-based Delta and its competitor United Airlines over the weekend said they would no longer offer discounts for travel to the meeting in May. The airlines joined a list of other companies, including Avis Budget Group, Hertz Global Holdings and Metlife, that announced they would end their relationship with the gun rights group after 17 people were killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.

Candidate for lieutenant governor and former state senator Rick Jeffares tweeted that he is "leading the charge to let Delta know their attack on the NRA and our 2nd Amendment is unacceptable."

After its tweet announcing the end of the NRA discounts, Delta said in a statement that the "decision reflects the airline's neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings" and that it was taken "out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides."

The airline added that "it continues to support the Second Amendment."

On social media, some customers thanked the airlines for taking a stance against the NRA while others said they would take their business to other airlines. Delta is the second-largest airline behind American Airlines, which does not have such a discount agreement with the NRA, a spokesman said. Southwest also said it does not have an agreement with the NRA.

The NRA called the decision of the companies to cut perks to the NRA "a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.

In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve," the NRA added.

United and Delta had offered airfare discounts of between 2 percent and 10 percent, according to the NRA's website.

The decision by the two airlines is more "symbolic" and doesn't cut any meaningful discount, said Henry Harteveldt, a travel-industry expert and founder of the consulting group Atmosphere Research Group. After airlines have gone through waves of large mergers many travelers may not have much choice in alternative carriers.

"You have consolidation," Harteveldt said.

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