Paycheck Protection Program

How Private Jet Owners Got a Subsidy From Coronavirus Relief Funds

Clay Lacy Aviation’s use of PPP funds is illustrative of one of the many ways in which the wealthiest Americans have benefitted from programs created to help workers

Life Service crew member Maurice Payne, salutes members of a delegation of California based-physicians onboard of a Gulfstream IV jet aircraft
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

A Hollywood aviation management company is sharing the benefits of a taxpayer-financed loan with its private jet-owning clients after it won the loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to three clients and a copy of a letter announcing the plan.

The loan program was enacted by Congress and President Donald Trump to prevent workers at small businesses from being laid off during the coronavirus crisis, and the company, Clay Lacy Aviation, will be able to keep pilots and flight attendants employed with the money it received.

But the firm also decided to provide a benefit for clients who own the jets it manages, a rich set who weren’t the target of federal coronavirus relief funds.

Those owners who opted in will get account credits through a formula based on the amount of the loan and the cost each owner incurs to employ crew members, according to a letter written by a top company executive that was provided to NBC News by one of the clients.

“CLA was approved for a loan and recently received funding,” wrote Bradford W. Wright, the chief financial officer of Clay Lacy Aviation, in the letter, dated April 29. “CLA is prospectively offering aircraft owners a credit for a portion of full-time payroll and employee benefit costs paid through CLA to their respective flight, cabin and maintenance crew members during the covered period.”

The crew members keep their jobs, which is a condition of the taxpayer-backed loan, and jet owners keep more of their money, which is not.

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