There was a lot of ground to cover in the most recent weekly virtual meeting by the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) this past Thursday. Hosted by Interim President & CEO Larry Killingsworth and Vice President Ken Presley, nearly 400 attendees joined the hour-long meeting.
Presley noted that more and more UMA members are applying for and receiving funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), according to surveys taken by the association. Just before the call, the House passed H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, which lowered the forgiveness threshold for payroll and benefits from 75 percent to 60 percent and increased the eight-week window to 24 weeks. Although it’s a positive step for the industry, it still has to clear the Senate, which has proposed its own bill. The Senate is expected to vote on it this week.
Killingsworth and Presley detailed a few other programs that they are watching, including the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP), which is being handled by the Federal Reserve, and a proposed RESTART Program, which was proposed by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) in late May. MSLP applies to small and midsize companies that were “financially sound prior to the COVID-19 pandemic” with a minimum loan size of $500,000 (lowered from $1M). With stricter qualification criteria and a four-year maturation, Killingsworth says that it can help businesses that need that capital but that it probably won’t be the answer for most because of the size and scope of the loan and the reluctance of companies to take on more debt without revenue.
According to Senator Bennet’s website, the RESTART Program was designed as the next step of the PPP, “to provide funding to cover the next six months of payroll, benefits, and fixed operating expenses for businesses that have taken a substantial revenue hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. A share of that loan will be forgiven based on the revenue losses suffered by the business in 2020, and the remainder can be repaid over seven years, with no interest payments due in the first year and no principal due for the first two years.” UMA is keeping an eye on the progress of the RESTART Program, although it does not currently have bipartisan support. The full text is available here.
Operators on the call shared what’s happening in their markets. Dale McMichael of Executive Coach in Pennsylvania said that he’s still doing wedding runs, while Elizabeth Kamalakis of Coachlight Tours in South Carolina commented that booked senior tours are proceeding but area schools may be closed through January. Both services have ramped up cleaning procedures. UMA Chairman Jeff Polzien shared his experience with flights in his area, noting that a common route from Oklahoma to Washington, D.C., was slowly returning to its pre-COVID numbers.
“I fell into the trap that we wouldn’t pick up until next spring, but I’m rethinking it,” Polzien said. “It feels like there’s pent-up demand,” and that operators should be ready for it.
Finally, Killingsworth shared his support for the state motorcoach rallies that were being organized by local state associations, tapping into the energy that was created with the Motorcoach Rolling for Awareness campaign that took place in Washington, D.C., on May 13. The rallies were expected in 40 states nationwide on June 3, but most associations decided this week to postpone in light of the widespread protests following the death of Minnesota man George Floyd while in police custody.
The next UMA call is scheduled for June 4. Visit uma.org for information on how to join.