Delta CEO Ed Bastian, in a memo to employees published online Friday, said it supports the Second Amendment and that the intent of its decision was to remain neutral in the debate over gun violence and gun control.
Only 13 people used the NRA discount, which was for members attending the group's annual meeting, a Delta spokesman said.
Hours after Georgia lawmakers voted on a tax-bill to eliminate a fuel-tax exemption worth about $38 million to Delta, Whipple took to Twitter to invite the airline company to relocate to the Sunflower State.
Michael Williams, a candidate for Georgia governor, about passing a broad tax bill that struck language exempting jet fuel from sales taxes (which means a cost to Delta and other airlines of at least $38M).
Bastian also said Delta was "proud and honored" to have its headquarters in Atlanta - an apparent response to politicians in other states who this week invited the No. 2 US airline to relocate.
The bill - which includes a sweeping income tax cut - passed both chambers on an overwhelming vote on Thursday.
The calls for Delta to move appear to be more of a political statement than genuine economic development, said Ady Milman, professor at UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality. But the group had also downplayed the importance of Delta's action, saying the "loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission".
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"Corporations can not attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back", he said.
On Thursday, the state Senate passed the tax measure 44-10 after removing the jet-fuel provision. It was originally pitched as an "airline tax break", rather than one that would only benefit Delta.
Atlanta losing a shot at Amazon's headquarters because of state legislation would represent a replay of that dynamic on a vastly larger scale.
The battle between Delta and the state of Georgia is being waged in the wake of a wave of activism following a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida in March of 2018.
The executives at Delta, in what I believe was a knee-jerk reaction to the recent Florida school shooting, decided that they would no longer offer these discounts.
This week, you have likely seen Delta in coverage of the national debate over gun control and security in US schools.
Bastian, however, demurred. "None of this changes the fact that our home is in Atlanta and we are proud and honored to locate our headquarters here", Bastian said. In a statement, he said: "Businesses have every legal right to make their own decisions, but the Republican majority in our state legislature also has every right to govern guided by our principles".