US states vie to attract Delta Air Lines as NRA stance hits Georgia tax break

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A dispute between Georgia and Delta Air Lines over the company’s decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association has led to other US states urging the Atlanta-based airline to relocate.

The Georgia Legislature has approved a tax bill that eliminates the proposal of a fuel tax break that would primarily benefit Delta.

Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, a Republican, had suggested removing the tax benefit as retribution for Delta’s decision to stop offering discounted fares to NRA members.

It comes after a shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead on February 14.

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School recently returned to class after a teenager attacked pupils and teachers with an AR-15 rifle.

Major retailers, such as Walmart, have toughened rules on selling guns and a host of corporations have cut ties with the NRA.

In the wake of Georgia’s tax bill, governors from Connecticut, New York and Virginia have pitched their states to Delta

A congressman from Ohio and the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, have also appealed to Delta in recent days.

“Hey @delta — Virginia is for lovers and airline hubs. You’re welcome here any time,” tweeted Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat.

He then took the opportunity to urge Mr Bastian to consider his state as the new location for Delta’s headquarters.

“As I am sure you are well aware, Connecticut is a state where we’ve put partisanship aside and passed common sense gun laws,” he said, referring to legislation passed after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Our efforts have made Connecticut one of the safest states to live, with one of the lowest rates of firearm deaths in the country.”

Georgia politicians approved the sweeping tax bill that strips out a jet fuel tax break worth an estimated $38 million (£28 million) annually for airlines.

Delta, which has a hub at Hartsfield Jackson Airport, would be the prime beneficiary.

“I think Delta knows better than that,” he said.

Mr 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.”

Students are greeted as they head back to school after the shooting (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Students are greeted as they head back to school after the shooting (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

She was a high school senior in 1996 when one of her classmates shot and killed another in the school’s car park.

“We’re the leaders of this state and we need to be coming together for solutions – not bullying corporations who are trying to do the right thing – and take a step in righting the wrong that we have done to our children in this country,” she said.

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