Delta Air Lines made a big deal out of ending its discount program for National Rifle Association members, and as a result, it lost millions in tax breaks in its home state of Georgia. As it turns out, very few people ever used the NRA discount, according to USA Today.
Costly political grandstanding?
In the wake of the gun control debate reignited by the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Delta dropped the NRA from a discount-fare program, reportedly in order to remain neutral on gun policy.
The Georgia Legislature responded by removing jet-fuel tax breaks that Delta benefited greatly from.
However, a Delta spokesman told USA Today on Friday that only 13 tickets had ever been purchased with an NRA discount.
The tax breaks Georgia eliminated would have had an estimated benefit of $40 million for Delta.
Why did Delta end the discount?
The airline claims it plans to remove any discounts for groups that may give the image that Delta is taking a political stance, but it specifically criticized the NRA’s response to the gun control debate.
“Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said. “This decision followed the NRA’s controversial statements after the recent school shootings in Florida. Our discounted travel benefit for NRA members could be seen as Delta implicitly endorsing the NRA. That is not the case.”
Of course, Delta’s costly decision to not endorse the NRA, implicitly or explicitly, could be seen as a political statement in its own right.