This week Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told shareholders that there will is turbulence ahead in the aviation sector. He said that the impact of the staggering business downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic will likely impact the company through 2023 and potentially beyond.

“We expect it will take two to three years for travel to return to 2019 levels and an additional few years beyond that for the industry’s long-term trend growth to return,” Calhoun told investors at the annual meeting of shareholders, which was held virtually because of the pandemic.

Calhoun had warned that when the commercial airline market stabilizes it “will be smaller and our customers’ needs will be different.”

As a result of the sudden economic downturn, Boeing, like other major companies in the United States, has reduced the size of its workforce. The aviation giant expects to cut “several thousand” jobs in June – the first wave of expected layoffs.

However, Boeing could be handed a lifeline of sorts as the U.S. Department of Treasury has released a loan application form for “businesses critical to maintaining national security.” This loan program could also convince companies such as Boeing to limit the layoffs.

Interested companies were given until 3pm EDT on Friday to file their applications, but the Treasury has maintained discretion when it considers late applications for approval subject to the availability of the funds.

The CARES Act has authorized the Treasury to make available up to $17 billion in loans and loan guarantees for those businesses that are deemed critical to maintaining national security.

What Defines a National Security Company?

The Department of the Treasury has attempted to clarify what is meant by a business that is critical to maintaining national security. It noted that it would include “one that, unless otherwise approved as set forth below,” is at the time of the business’s application: 1) performing under a “DX”-priority rated contract or order under the Defense Priorities and Allocations System regulations (15 CFR part 700); or 2) operating under a valid top secret facility security clearance under the National Industrial Security Program regulations (32 CFR part 2004).

The Treasury Department added that applicants that do not satisfy either of these two above criteria may still be considered for loans if, based on a recommendation and certification by the Secretary of Defense or the Director of National Intelligence that the applicant business is critical to maintaining national security, the Secretary of the Treasury determines that the applicant business is critical to maintaining national security.

Moreover, businesses that do not meet these criteria may nonetheless be eligible for assistance under other CARES Act programs.

Approval Process

By some standards the amount of required information could be described as daunting, so as with other loans, larger companies – especially those with large accounting and legal teams – could have an advantage. In addition to providing information on corporate structure; debt, asset and equity positions; operations in the United States, covered losses; most recently completed IRS Form 941; various consolidated financial statements; and any outstanding liens with the U.S. government, applicants must also submit a financial plan.

Two company officials must also certify that the information and certifications provided in the application are true and correct.

Potential borrowers have also been advised that such loans will be subject to certain conditions and restrictions that including that if the borrower is a public company it must provide a warrant or equity interest in the borrower to the U.S. government; or if the borrower is a private company issue a senior debt instrument.

The borrower must maintain employment levels as of March 24, 2020 to the extent practicable, and in any case not reduce its employments levels by more than 10% from the levels on such date, at least until September 30 of this year. One key point of this loan is that unlike under the Paycheck Protection Program available to small businesses, loan forgiveness is not available under this loan program.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at petersuciu@gmail.com.