By Maria Saporta
If Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian had his way, Amazon would pick Atlanta for its second headquarters.
“I am an Atlantan,” Bastian said on Wednesday morning. “I would love to see Amazon come here.”
Bastian was at the Delta Flight Museum addressing a gathering of 70 journalists from 18 countries who were in town for the unveiling of the A-350 aircraft.
Bastian did give provide a caveat that Delta flies to many of the cities that are vying for the second headquarters – a $5 billion investment that eventually would employ 50,000 people. But he made it clear that Atlanta was his top choice.
“I think Amazon would be well-served in terms of having a headquarters (in the city) with the world’s best and largest airport. It’s a great place to live, and I think Amazon will be well served if they came to Atlanta.”
Bastian was asked if he was concerned about possible new religious freedom legislation being introduced in the Georgia General Assembly. In past years, former Delta CEO Richard Anderson had been the Atlanta business community’s most vocal critic of such legislation, arguing that it could hurt Georgia’s economic development climate and its ability to attract major sporting and entertainment events.
“It’s something that’s very important to our people and Delta,” Bastian said Wednesday morning. “We will not tolerate discrimination of any variety not matter how people want to cloak it in religious freedom. Our position will remain as strong as ever.”
During his Q&A with journalists, Bastian addressed a host of volatile issues impacting airline industry, including a strong statement that Delta would not be paying 300 percent tariffs to take delivery of the C Series planes made by Canadian-based Bombardier, and now Airbus is taking a majority stake in the Bombardier jet program.
U.S.-based Boeing has accused Bombardier of selling its new C Series planes to Delta at below production costs. The U.S. Commerce Department sided with Boeing, and recommended that Delta pay a tariff of 300 percent on some of the 100-seat planes.
Bastian explained that Boeing is not making an aircraft of that size, and he added that more than 50 percent of the content in the C Series is produced in the United States.
“I don’t understand (Boeing’s position),” Bastian said. “When you have a platform you decided 10 years ago not to produce. I’m mystified.”
Meanwhile, Bastian said Delta is the largest owner of Boeing aircraft in the world, and it will continue to negotiate with Boeing on future aircraft orders.
“We want the best product for our future,” said Bastian about the future purchase of narrow-bodied airplanes. “Boeing has every opportunity to win this.”