Lindblad Expeditions said it had returned the $6.6 million it received as part of the small business payroll protection program (PPP).
The expedition cruise line is among many publicly traded companies to face backlash for receiving loans under the Cares Act's massive rescue plan after the program ran out of money before many small businesses' loans had been processed. The Small Business Administration has said that public companies should give back the money and that they were not the intended recipients of the funds.
Sven Lindblad, the company's CEO, urged officials to create access to funding for companies like his, which has not generated any revenue since it paused all expeditions on March 12.
"This situation has been financially devastating for the company, and the future for our workforce is very uncertain," Lindblad said. "We believed at the outset that all jobs are worth protecting and applied for the program based on company size, hardship and use of funds, with the commitment that all funds be used as the program intended: to pay and protect our employees against layoffs, furloughs and salary reductions that otherwise would be required given the current financial state of the business.
"As this crisis unfolds, we urge Congress and the administration to look for ways to help companies such as ours -- each one of which employs hundreds of skilled American workers -- to gain access to the affordable capital needed to survive."
In a Washington Post editorial on May 1, Lindblad said that his company is "not able to qualify for other government loans, and access to capital for a company our size is challenging and costly. So to protect the enterprise given the current state of the business, we have to lay off or furlough employees. This could not have been the intention of Congress, and our company is almost certainly not alone."
Lindblad said that the company hopes the money can be "redistributed to the large number of small businesses, especially those in the travel industry -- travel agencies, tour operators, app developers, reviewers, local artisans and our extensive supplier network -- that most need the assistance to stay in business."