The Delta ticket counter at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
Photo: JOHN SPINK / AJC/JOHN SPINK / AJC
Photo: JOHN SPINK / AJC/JOHN SPINK / AJC

The Jolt: With new NYC-Mumbai route, Delta grows elsewhere

Back in March, at the height of hostilities between state Senate Republicans and Delta Air Lines, the carrier issued a carefully worded statement warning that the climate could “give commercial aviation reason to grow somewhere other than the state of Georgia.”

Late Tuesday, Delta Air Lines announced its long-awaited decision to place a new nonstop route from Mumbai, India, to either New York or Atlanta.

The Atlanta-based carrier chose New York.

Ben Bearup, a writer at Airways magazine, quickly made a connection:

“JFK is a great choice for this route but I feel this was ATL’s to lose. Delta used the route as a bargaining chip with state lawmakers but they chose to stick it to Delta for the NRA nonsense last year.”

It wasn’t a universal opinion. From Benjamin Granucci, director and senior editor for @NYCAviation:

JFK probably makes more sense here for the connection possibilities. ATL would require backtracking from a big part of the country. It’s also 700 miles shorter which is probably a big fuel savings at that distance.

Global Atlanta had this to say about Delta’s decision to choose NYC over its hometown airport:

Some in Atlanta had held out hope that the nearly 100,000-strong Indian community here would be enough to sway the decision in the city’s favor. 

Unclear on plans from Delta, which ended its India flights from Atlanta in 2009, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials have made multiple trips to India in an effort to sell Indian carriers on a nonstop route. 

In its announcement, Delta stated that the decision was purely business-driven:

Demand for flights between the U.S. and India has increased significantly in the last decade, and New York is the largest U.S. market to India with the largest base of corporate customers.

But the airline did ascribe its resumption of the route, suspended in 2009, to the resolution of an international political dispute.

“Illegally subsidized Middle East carriers made the route untenable,” Delta said. “We are pleased to bring this route back into service thanks to landmark agreements the Trump administration reached with Qatar and the U.A.E."

***

Shortly after Democrat Stacey Abrams opted not to run for Senate, a one-page memo from the left-leaning Global Strategy Group directed to “interested parties” soon began to circulate. 

The headline: “David Perdue is vulnerable, Democrats in strong position to flip GA SEN seat.”

These memos are a mix of wishful thinking, morale boosts and fundraising tools, so don’t bet the house on its contents. But one spin from the group’s poll tracked close to a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey.

It found that the Republican has a 41% favorable rating and a 30% unfavorable. About one-third didn’t rate him at all. 

The AJC poll had Perdue’s favorable number closer to 50% and his unfavorable lower. The rate of “no opinion” was about the same. 

The group’s takeaway: “Voters are ambivalent about David Perdue.” 

***

Over at CNN, Chris Cillizza makes the point that Stacey Abrams isn’t the only one who has resisted the blandishments of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. to seek a seat in his shop. In Iowa, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne has passed on a race against U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican. Writes Cillizza:

If Democrats can't make Georgia and Iowa -- or at least one of the two -- very competitive, it will require the party to run the table of the most competitive races in the country. Which is doable, but far from ideal for a party that sees 2020 as the chance to take full control of Congress back from Republicans.

***

Something that bears repeating: State Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero of Norcross on Wednesday entered the Democratic race for Georgia’s Seventh District congressional seat. She was the first Latina elected to the state General Assembly.

***

In a New York Times take-out on Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ decision to re-open the files on the Atlanta Murdered and Missing Children, we find this vignette:

Ms. Bottoms, who was elected mayor in 2017, was 9 years old when the killings started. She remembers her grandmother and aunt begging her mother to send her to Chicago. And she remembers waiting at the school bus stop one morning when a car slowly cruised by — and suddenly book bags were flying and scattered on the street.

“It was chaos, and we all just took off running, and kids were crying and everybody was hysterical,” she recalled. “It was like there was a boogeyman out there, and he was snatching black children.”

***

Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., died over the weekend at age 87. His partnership with U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., on nuclear disarmament was one of the great accomplishments of a bipartisan era. Nunn spoke of Lugar in a Q&A with Foreign Policy magazine. A taste:

He was honest, and he was transparent, and he was knowledgeable. I think it’s also very accurate to say he had a big influence on President Obama and his focus on nuclear issues. Obama had four summit conferences just on protecting nuclear material with 40 to 50 heads of state, which is an enormous move forward. I think we moved from 40 countries that had weapons-usable material to like 22 or 23 during the Obama administration.

Lugar and President Obama traveled together. I remember that right after Obama was elected to the Senate, he asked me to come over and meet with him, and he was actually in his temporary office in the basement. He asked me what I would advise, and I remember one of the things I mentioned was to get close to Dick Lugar. I’m sure there were a lot of other people who said the same thing, but I’ll take at least a tiny sliver of credit for getting those two together.

***

We told you earlier this week about how the stalled disaster aid bill has become a campaign issue for U.S. Sen. Perdue, R-Ga. There hasn’t been much movement to report since then. Puerto Rico is still the sticking point in bipartisan negotiations, but the two sides continue to trade offers. “We hope to have something where we’ll be together. That’s what we’re working for,” Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrats’ top negotiator, told reporters Tuesday evening.

Leahy’s comments came minutes after Perdue, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and three other colleagues from the Southeast renewed their push for assistance for the victims of Hurricane Michael and other recent storms at a press conference.

Perdue wouldn’t go into specifics about what he was advising his ally, President Donald Trump, whose refusal to budge on Puerto Rico funding helped grind talks with Democrats to a standstill, but he said the president has “been more than workable” on aid spending. The first-term Republican insisted a bipartisan deal is closer than it may appear, and summarized his own position as this: “Look, let’s just get this done.”

***

A bill from U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, is getting some love from a group of politically active Google employees. Googlers for Ending Forced Arbitration, a group that successfully pushed the tech giant to end the practice of forcing employees to settle disputes outside of court, is organizing a phone bank today in favor of Johnson's legislation, per The Washington Post.

Johnson’s bill would eliminate so-called forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer and civil rights cases. Such clauses are commonplace in the business world but have seen increased scrutiny in recent years because of the #MeToo movement.

Google has expanded its Georgia footprint in recent years.

***

Tuesday ended another chapter in the Stacey Abrams saga. Shortly after she ruled out a Senate run, longtime Abrams spokeswoman Caitlin Highland announced she was leaving Fair Fight Action.

Highland has worked with Abrams for more than two years, first at the campaign and later with Fair Fight, and was an entrenched member of her inner circle.

Highland’s departure was long-planned (she alerted us a few weeks ago) and amicable, and we understand she’s set to freelance as a consultant for local and national clients. 

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