Delaware North now says eliminating Chick-fil-a from consideration for a place at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport was strictly “a business decision,” that the Buffalo firm made, not the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which owns the airport.
The NFTA caught most of the flack over the Chick-fil-A decision,last week, so NFTA officials met with executives from Delaware North Monday to clear the air.
Airport officials are trying out a new “Marketplace Concept” for concessions at the BNIA, and in their initial presentation to the NFTA’s Board of Commissioners last month one of the existing concessions, Checkers was to be replaced by Chick-fil-A.
The plan document also indicated the Chick-fil-A placement was tentative, but State Assemblyman, Sean Ryan called the Chick-fil-A placement a mistake because the restaurant chain’s founder has a history of supporting causes based on his conservative Christian beliefs.
“I am a bit disappointed with the NFTA,” Ryan said last Friday, Delaware North “wanted to talk about how they could allow them to stay here. That is really not allowed under our rules.”
The next day, Ryan released a statement saying the vendor, Delaware North had eliminated Chick-fil-A from consideration.
Instantly a barrage of criticism came raining down on the NFTA, including objections from a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and an executive from the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.
After meeting with NFTA officials, Kevin Kelly, president of Delaware North Travel released a statement which said in part, “The original story suggested that this concept was a done deal, when in reality, it was an option in early stages that we were looking into.”
Kelly went on to say in places where Delaware North does business, it is important to get the support from “numerous members of the community, and it was clear that we did not. This was purely a business decision.”
Delaware North does manage concessions at six other airports in the United States where there are Chick-fil-A’s in operation, but a Delaware North spokesperson said they are managed by a competing vendor at those other airports.