Several States Have Eyes On Delta's Headquarters

By Amanda Cooper

March 02, 2018 - 6:10 pm

Some states are taking advantage of a dispute between Georgia and Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines over the company’s decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association, urging the airline to relocate. Governors from Connecticut, New York and Virginia have pitched their states to the airline. A congressman from Ohio and the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, also have reached out to Delta in recent days. “Hey @delta — Virginia is for lovers and airline hubs. You’re welcome here any time,” tweeted Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat.

The Republican-controlled Georgia Legislature approved a tax bill Thursday that eliminated the proposal of a fuel tax break that would primarily benefit Delta. Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Republican, had suggested removing the tax benefit as retribution for Delta’s decision after a deadly school shooting in Florida to stop offering discounted fares to NRA members. Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, sent Delta CEO Ed Bastian a letter Wednesday, praising him for his “courage standing up to” the NRA following the shooting that left 17 people dead. He then took the opportunity to urge Bastian to consider his state as the new location for Delta’s headquarters.

Georgia lawmakers approved the sweeping tax bill that strips out a jet fuel tax break worth an estimated $38 million annually for airlines. Delta, which has a hub at Hartsfield Jackson Airport, would be the prime beneficiary.

It was unclear whether Delta is seriously considering any of the pitches. Georgia’s Republican governor, Nathan Deal, didn’t seem concerned that the company would be enticed to leave. “I think Delta knows better than that,” he said. Deal, who has said he will sign the tax bill, said a lot of people share the blame for the dispute. “Delta made a statement or an action that caused this dispute to erupt,” the governor said. “I’ve tried my best to resolve it within the timeframe we had available to us.”

Associated Press Writers Ben Nadler and R.J. Rico in Atlanta contributed to this report.