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Aviation companies in Wichita area can now apply for new federal COVID relief

Wichita Eagle | Jason Tidd

Aviation companies in the Air Capital of the World can now apply for new federal pandemic relief designed to help businesses keep workers employed.

The Department of Transportation on Tuesday opened the application process, permitting Kansas aviation manufacturing companies of all sizes to apply for the payroll assistance.

The federal dollars come from the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program, which was championed in Congress by Rep. Ron Estes and Sen. Jerry Moran. Neither of the Republicans voted for the final version of the Democrat-passed American Rescue Plan Act, under which the program was created.

“Here in the Air Capital of the World, we know the incredible impact COVID-19 and forced shutdowns had on the aviation manufacturing industry,” Estes said Tuesday in a statement. “That’s why I introduced this bipartisan legislation last year to ease the burden on manufacturers, assist the many employees we have here in south central Kansas, and maintain our skilled workforce in the region.”

“Aviation manufacturing plays a critical role in Wichita and across the country,” Moran said in a statement. “I’m pleased the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program is now available for businesses and to support this industry and their invaluable workforce while demand returns to normal and the economy recovers.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation administers the program, which can pay businesses up to half their compensation costs for certain employees for up to 6 months. In return, the employer makes several commitments, including restrictions on moving jobs out of the country, furloughing or laying off employees in the program, circumventing union contracts or using the aid for stock buybacks or dividends.

Companies may designate up to a quarter of their workforce as at risk of furlough due to COVID-19, and the government will split the compensation cost 50-50.

Application details and additional eligibility information are available at The application deadline is July 13 at 4 p.m. Central. Questions about the application process can be submitted by emailing prior to close of business June 22. The program runs through April 2023.