Back in February Delta revoked a flight discount for customers attending an NRA conference. A political firestorm followed. They tried to walk it back once they realized they were getting pushback from Georgia legislators.
But Delta is very political. Delta takes stands on issues, usually whenever it benefits Delta. It’s no coincidence that they’ve just named the recently departed head of the FAA to their board.
If there’s one thing we know about Delta is they do not like competition. They lobbied against competition from Mideast airlines. They also don’t like US airlines getting access to gates in Atlanta, it’s no surprise the difficulties JetBlue has had there.
Delta especially doesn’t want a second airport to be built in Atlanta. They have a lock on the first airport, and a new airport could open Atlanta up to competition.
There’s been plans for a second airport since the 1970s when the city acquired about 10,000 acres in Paulding County (40 miles from the city) to build one. They still own the land. Allegiant, for one, has expressed interest in flying there should a single runway airport get built.
The new airport received FAA approvals in 2014 leaving only an environmental study in the way of final approval for commercial service that would justify building the facility.
We know that Atlanta has filed suit against building a second airport in order to protect Delta. And Delta required Atlanta to oppose a new airport as a condition of renewing their airport lease.
But Delta has never publicly admitted to funding the ‘neighborhood groups’ that oppose a second airport. And Delta has gone to court to prevent revealing that it funds those groups which sort of gives away the plot of where the funding comes from, doesn’t it? The airline claims a free speech right, because airlines are people too.
[Delta] has never publicly admitted to giving financial aid to residents who file lawsuits or to the grassroots efforts. And, this week, Delta filed a friend of the court brief weighing in on a legal effort to force an anti-commercialization group to reveal its funding source.
The anti-airport committee was formed by an attorney at a law firm that does work for Delta (and the attorney who formed it is now President Trump’s deputy White House counsel for ethics). The CEO of the committee has said publicly that he works for “a major airliner in Atlanta” to fight a new airport, although he now says he “misspoke” and that you shouldn’t believe him because he “was not under oath.”
Delta cites its first amendment right to remain anonymous,
Delta in its filing cited the 2010 Citizens United ruling that expanded free speech rights of corporations through campaign donations.
The filing says: “Delta has a First Amendment right to engage in political activity and to remain anonymous, just as any other member of myriad political action committees that shape our country’s politics.”
That’s probably correct, but by asserting their right to remain anonymous as a reason not to release who the funders are of the anti-airport project they are pretty much saying that granting the motion would reveal them as the funders. I’m not sure that’s the best lawyering.