Delta Air Lines said Friday it might scrap promotional offers for all politically contentious organizations after its removal of a discount for National Rifle Association members drew a swift retaliation from Georgia lawmakers.
Ed Bastian, Delta's chief executive, said in a memo to employees that the company was "in the process of a review to end group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature."
On Saturday, as boycott campaigns from gun safety advocates roiled corporate America in the wake of the Florida school shooting that killed 17 people, the airline said it would no longer offer a one-time discount for NRA members traveling to the trade association's annual meeting in Dallas in May.
On Thursday, politicians in Georgia, where Delta is based, struck back at the company in the harshest rebuke yet of a former NRA partner.
The state Senate overwhelmingly approved a version of a tax-relief bill that stripped out a $50 million sales tax exemption highly sought after by Delta. The Georgia House, which, like the Senate, is controlled by Republicans, also approved the change. Nathan Deal, the state's Republican governor, signed the bill early Friday.
Deal said he supported the inclusion of the jet-fuel tax break provision that was removed from the bill, but would still sign it because of its reductions of personal and corporate tax rates.
"He is a great friend to Delta," Bastian wrote. "I know this action by the state Legislature troubled him as it does all of us."
Delta joined United Airlines and more than a dozen other companies in severing ties with the NRA following the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., last month. Bastian wrote that Delta made the move after hearing statements from NRA representatives about the massacre, including accusations that the news media was gleefully profiting off the deaths of students.
On Thursday, the families of several victims of the deadly attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 sent a letter to Bass Pro Shops asking it to stop selling assault-style rifles. Earlier this week, Walmart, Dick's Sporting Goods and Kroger said they would limit firearms sales.
Delta's group rate to the 2018 NRA convention, which the airline said generated a total of 13 ticket sales, was interpreted by many consumers to be an implicit endorsement of the gun group. "That is not the case," Bastian wrote.
"Our people and our customers have a wide range of views on how to increase safety in our schools and public places, and we are not taking sides," Bastian wrote. "Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this debate."
He stressed in the memo that Delta is "proud and honored" to be based in Atlanta and that the company supports the Second Amendment.
"I know it is not comfortable to be caught in a highly emotional debate, and many of you have received questions from customers," Bastian wrote to employees.
He added: "Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale."