ATLANTA - Delta Air Lines marquis banners will soon be part of The Fox Theatre's storied past. The Atlanta-based airline pulled the plug on its 20-year sponsorship after a star-studded gala at the Fox this week for Delta rival Qatar Airways.
"For us, we did think that the Fox should have picked up the phone and called us, and had a conversation with us,” Delta’s chief legal officer, Peter Carter, told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant Wednesday. “The fact that they chose to host Qatar for that coming-out party was, for us, just not appropriate and not something we would ever expect a partner to do."
For months, Channel 2 Action News has tracked the escalating war of words between executives with Delta and Qatar airways, which begins service to Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport on June 1. The Middle East carrier's CEO, Akbar Al-Baker fired another shot at Delta on Tuesday at a media event in Buckhead.
"We have a very superior product and people were craving for an airline to come here and give them the kind of product, hospitality and respect that we give to our customers," Al-Baker said.
Delta has accused state-owned Qatar Airways of human rights violations and operating on an uneven playing field built with billions in government subsidies. We asked local public relations consultant, Brian Robinson, to weigh in on Delta’s action against the Fox Theatre.
"If the most important goal is to get attention to this issue that it's unfair competition, that it's bad for American companies, and it's bad for American jobs, then this has been a brilliant move, because here we are talking about it," Robinson said.
However, Delta says that wasn't its intent. On Wednesday, the Fox Theatre sent us a statement saying, "As we are not in tune with the industry politics of our sponsors, we are disheartened to learn that Delta has chosen to penalize the Fox Theatre for our decision to rent the venue to another airline."
Carter would not discuss the value of that Fox sponsorship, but did tell us it included free plane tickets.
Carter also acknowledged bridges can be mended, but the question is how and when.
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