February 27, 2018 / 11:03 PM / 4 months ago

U.S. state officials offer Delta new home amid NRA blowback

Feb 27 (Reuters) - Several state officials on Tuesday offered Delta Air Lines a new place to call home after a Georgia legislator said he would kill lucrative tax benefits to the Atlanta-based carrier as retribution for its decision to sever ties with the National Rifle Association.

Officials from Virginia, Washington, New York and Ohio have volunteered their states to headquarter Delta after the No. 2 U.S. carrier faced some public outcry for ending its relationship with the NRA in the wake of the recent Florida school shooting.

"Any state would be lucky to call itself the home of Delta headquarters," Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, a Democrat, wrote in an open letter to Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian.

"Hey @Delta—Virginia is for lovers and airline hubs. You're welcome here any time," Virginia Governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, wrote on Twitter to his 125,000 followers.

Delta did not respond to requests for comment.

On Monday, Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, a Republican, wrote on Twitter he would "kill any tax legislation" that benefits Delta, unless the carrier reinstated its relationship with the NRA, which advocates for the Second Amendment right for Americans to bear arms.

"Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back," Cagle wrote.

Delta is one of Georgia's largest private employers with 33,000 employees statewide.

The Georgia legislator is considering a jet fuel sales tax exemption designed to benefit Delta that would save the airline some $40 million per year.

Cagle is running for governor in the 2018 race, and rival Republicans in the race have said they will not support the measure unless Delta reinstates its relationship with the NRA.

The NRA has been under renewed fire since the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, by a gunman with a legally purchased semiautomatic rifle reignited the nation's long-running debate over gun rights.

More than a dozen corporations have cut ties with the NRA since last week, including rival United Airlines, car rental companies Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Alamo Rent a Car, MetLife insurance and others.

Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo and the Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib of Washington also extended welcomes to Delta to relocate to their respective states.

"While Georgia politicians may disagree with the airline's principled stand, we here in the Empire State welcome Delta with open arms, and invite them to move their headquarters here," Cuomo said in a Tuesday statement.

The NRA did not comment.

Reporting by Alana Wise Editing by Chris Reese

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