Delta, Southwest reactions to Georgia jet fuel tax break

Republican gubernatorial nominee Brian Kemp. Jenna Eason,

Credit: Jenna Eason

Credit: Jenna Eason

Republican gubernatorial nominee Brian Kemp. Jenna Eason,

The wrangling over guns, jet fuel tax breaks and Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines roared back to life this week.

My colleague Greg Bluestein is reporting this morning that Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp has shifted his position on a jet fuel tax break that could save Delta about $40 million a year.

Kemp had previously called Delta a "corporate coward" for ending a discount for NRA members to travel to their convention and called instead for a tax break on guns and ammo, Bluestein reported.

But Kemp has now praised Gov. Nathan Deal's decision announced Monday to suspend collection of the sales tax on jet fuel.

Read more here on what might be motivating Kemp.

Delta is a strong political force at the State Capitol and Deal’s decision, unsurprisingly, was welcomed by airlines that will reap the benefits.

Delta and Southwest Airlines, the two largest carriers in Atlanta, each issued statements responding to Deal’s executive order Monday.

Here’s what Delta CEO Ed Bastian had to say:

"Delta wants to thank Gov. Deal for his steps to ensure that the state of Georgia will remain competitive in the global economy.

With 33,000 employees in Georgia, we are honored to call this our home state, and proud of the $58 billion in economic impact that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport creates statewide every year. The savings will allow us to invest additional flights into Georgia in the years to come. We look forward to continued growth of our service in Georgia and the job creation that will accompany it."

Here’s how Southwest responded:

We applaud this decision and thank the Governor for his support on this important economic development issue. This is a win for the traveling public, and specifically those in Georgia. We appreciate the Governor's recognition of the important role commercial aviation service plays in the State with an eye toward opportunities for competition, growth and expansion.