Just how ready is Delta?

Just how ready is Delta?

“Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know we will be ending their contract for discounted rates…. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website.”

Thus read Delta Air Lines’ Tweet in the wee hours of February 24.

Half a day later, however, the company walked its chief Georgia lobbyist out on the gang plank in a desperate, and failed, attempt to put lipstick on a pig by Tweeting, in part, that “Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business. Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment.”

So, okay, Delta supports the Second Amendment but just wants to discriminate against those who also support it by joining organizations that vigorously defend this basic right.


That Delta’s capitulation to the continuing demands by the Left’s Thought Police is an egregious display of corporate irresponsibility and political cowardice is indisputable.

After all, Delta had no such qualms in entering the political debate when it opposed protecting religious liberty or supported same-sex marriage, both highly divisive issues. These positions were sanctified by the Left. Using the “respect for our customers and employees on both sides” and, therefore, “refrain from entering this debate” justification after they already entered it reflects an astounding duplicity.

But it’s not surprising that Delta, the Georgia-based premier air line with its hub at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport, touted as the world’s busiest, scrambled for the Maybelline counter so quickly on this particular issue.

Neither Georgia Prospers, an organization of businesses opposing religious liberty legislation in Georgia, nor GLAAD, for which Delta serves as a corporate sponsor, are debating whether to give Delta a $50 million annual tax break, like the Georgia legislature is presently considering.

Delta, the “Ready When You Are” airline, is a multi-billion dollar enterprise with 80,000 employees. And it is good to its employees. Delta recently announced that it will share $1.1 billion in profits with its employees, the “fourth year in a row that Delta’s profit sharing has topped $1 billion,” according to CEO Ed Bastian.

Those are some pretty big numbers.

This is good news for Delta’s employees and corporate Delta as well since it elucidates the corporation’s robust fiscal position which they seemed to have miraculously achieved without any Georgia taxpayer subsidy.

Prior to 2015, Delta, and other airlines, enjoyed a fuel tax exemption from state and most local sales taxes. Georgia is not shy about supporting corporate welfare but did away with the exemption that year.

Regardless of its billion dollar bottom line, Delta has fought to reinstate the exemption saying that it needs it to stay competitive. For a company that booked $4.4 billion in profits in 2016 and another $3.6 billion in 2017, according to Benjamin Zhang of Glassdoor.com, competitiveness doesn’t seem to be much of a problem and the argument seems to be a bit of a non sequitur.

Nonetheless, Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal recently put forth a tax reform plan that cuts the state income tax rates to avoid a massive revenue windfall for the state due to changes in the federal income tax laws. So far, so good. But then he included in the bill a provision reinstating the airline fuel tax exemption. It should be stripped out of the bill.

Georgia taxpayers cannot be called upon to subsidize a successful company’s profit sharing plans nor its hypocrisy.

There’s not enough lipstick the world to fix that.

Gary M. Wisenbaker (gary@blackstonestrategy.com) is a corporate communications and political consultant at Blackstone, LLC