Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian dug his heels in and refused to criticize Georgia’s controversial new voting law known as SB202 yesterday despite a growing social media-led campaign to boycott the Atlanta-based airline for its role in helping to craft the restrictive voting rules.
The law is most well known for criminalizing giving out food or water to voters waiting in hours-long lines but one of the most significant changes is to election management, handing control to the Republican-controlled state legislature.
Delta refused to condemn the bill before it was passed despite a growing backlash and a short time after it was passed into law, Bastian published an internal employee memo praising the new rules that have been described as ‘anti-democratic’ and a blatant attempt to “suppress the participation of Black voters”.
On Tuesday, Bastian attempted to address some of those concerns in an internal employee video, telling workers that because “there was no chance” the bill could be eliminated altogether, the airline chose to remove some of the “worst elements” of what had been proposed.
“When we looked at it, we felt that based on our knowledge of the political climate here, there was no chance that the bill was going to be eliminated altogether,” Bastian explained. “So, our team et out to do what they could to engage extensively for weeks with elected officials from both parties, expressing our strong view that Georgia must have a fair election process with broad voter participation and full and equal access to the polls”.
“We had to do this somewhat quietly and behind the scenes, because we felt this was our best opportunity to bring forward changes that needed to happen with some of the proposed legislation, and we had a seat at that table in making changes to improve the bill,” Bastian continued.
“But I know many of you are disappointed, frustrated and angry that we did not take a stronger public stand against specific measures in the bill. Unfortunately, the reality is that would have made it much harder to shape the legislation at all and we would have lost a seat at the table”.
Bastian insists it was his team that helped remove “many of the worst elements” from the bill but now concedes that “there are still elements of the bill that are troubling”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.