A proposed jet fuel tax break that had been in Georgia Republicans' crosshairs ever since Delta Air Lines severed ties with the National Rifle Association has been stripped from a larger tax-cut package.
Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian announced the policy review a day after the state's lawmakers, angry at Delta's stance on the gun-rights group, punished the airline by removing a tax exemption on jet fuel from a fiscal bill.
Bastian explained that Delta's "decision followed the NRA's controversial statements after the recent school shootings in Florida", adding: "Our discounted travel benefit for NRA members could be seen as Delta implicitly endorsing the NRA".
The state Senate's presiding officer, Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, set up the showdown between gun-rights supporters and one of Georgia's biggest private employers when he vowed Monday to stop any tax break that would benefit Delta.
The bill, which has already been approved by the state's majority GOP House, is said to have the support of Governor Nathan Deal.
But business watchers both inside and outside the state feel the Delta vote may just have eliminated Atlanta from the Amazon headquarters sweepstakes.
"I'm sure if we got someone from a company like Delta who was interested in taking a look at our state, those are the type of conversations that we on the committee would love to have".
As the #BoycottNRA movement spread, NRA members - including some Georgia lawmakers - wondered why Delta wasn't discontinuing any of those discounts, too. In a memo posted on the airline's website Friday, the company's CEO said "Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale".
The controversy relates to political activism in the USA following a February mass shooting at a Florida high school in which 17 people were killed.
Contacted Thursday, Whipple said he's serious and would work to facilitate any Delta presence, up to and including moving its headquarters from Atlanta. "Corporations can not attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back".
The tax exemption for airline fuel was taken off the books in 2015. He said they agreed Delta was discriminating against customers because of political beliefs.
According to the Associated Press, governors from Virginia, New York and CT have made pitches to Delta.
The incident, in which 17 people died, reopened the gun debate in the United States and has prompted several companies to end their relationships with the NRA.
Dick's Sporting Goods has said it will no longer sell assault-style weapons like the one used in the Florida attack. "At the same time, we didn't really feel like we started this". "We have heard you loud and clear, and we promise to keep the conversation going".