WXIA photographer Tyson Paul shoots a Delta plane landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, 3.8.11
ATLANTA -- Like automobiles, the owners of aircraft pay a state fuel tax whenever they tank up in Georgia. And no airline buys more fuel in Georgia than Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.
A group of state lawmakers wants to make sure Delta doesn't pay too much fuel tax. They've proposed a fuel tax cap that would give Delta a tax subsidy worth tens of millions of dollars annually.
"When you've got the largest private employer in the state of Georgia, we need to do what we can to say that we appreciate them doing business here," said Rep. Jay Roberts (R-Ocilla), the bill sponsor. "We appreciate the fact that they're headquartered here, and we (want to) thank them for the jobs that they provide for our citizens."
The state began giving Delta Air Lines its tax break in 2005, which is the year that Delta went into bankruptcy. Delta emerged from bankruptcy two years later, but the tax break continued.
State Representative Virgil Fludd (D-Tyrone) says the last tax break for Delta cost the state $24 million in 2010.
"They paid out $330 million in profit sharing to employees," said Fludd. "They've had a good year, and so at this point I don't believe the state needs to continue to subsidize them at the rate that we've been doing."
The measure to extend Delta's fuel tax subsidy has bipartisan backing in the legislature. Fludd predicts that backing will erode when lawmakers look at the books of the airline -- and compare them to those of state government.