Govs. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut and Andrew Cuomo of New York are inviting Delta Air Lines to relocate its corporate headquarters from Atlanta to their respective states after Republican Georgia legislators moved to kill a proposed $50 million tax break for the airline following its termination of a long-standing relationship with the National Rifle Association.
In the aftermath of the Feb. 14 high school shootings in Parkland, Florida, Delta announced that it was dropping its travel discount program for NRA members. Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who has identified himself as an NRA member, first raised the threat to cut a proposed sales tax exemption for Delta on jet fuel unless the airline restored its NRA discount program. Yesterday, the proposed tax exemption was stripped from the state budget bill by Georgia’s Senate Rules Committee. Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, expressed displeasure at the committee’s decision, but said he would sign the bill because of it would offer $5 billion in tax cuts to Georgia residents.
Delta, which is the largest employer in Georgia, has been headquartered in Atlanta since 1941, where it operates its largest hub at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Malloy pitched Delta CEO Ed Bastian in a letter that stressed what he claimed to be common bonds between the airline and the state’s political climate.
“I ask you to consider relocating your headquarters to the great state of Connecticut,” Malloy wrote. “As I am sure you are well aware, Connecticut is a state where we’ve put partisanship aside and passed common sense gun laws.”
Across the border, Cuomo used Twitter to invite Delta to become an Empire State-based company.
“@Delta, if Georgia politicians disagree with your stand against gun violence, we invite you to move your headquarters to New York,” tweeted Cuomo.
Delta has also received invitations via Twitter from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib to move their headquarters to their states. The airline has not commented publicly on any of these invitations. After ending its NRA program, the airline issued statements insisting that it supported the Second Amendment and desired to maintain a “neutral status in the current national debate over gun control.”