CAN flight (Photo: Corporate Angel Network)
The Corporate Angel Network is finding some operators willing to dedicate flights to transport cancer patients to treatment during the COVID-19 crisis. One such patient is three-year-old Giovana, who flew from California to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. (Photo: Corporate Angel Network)

Volunteers Step Up For Cancer Patients Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Participation in the Corporate Angel Network remains critical because those seeking flights still urgently need treatment.

While COVID-19 has dampened business aircraft operations, critical flights continue for the Corporate Angel Network (CAN), the charitable organization that arranges free travel on what would otherwise be empty seats on business jets for patients traveling to or from cancer treatment.

Some patients have been able to—or were asked to—defer treatment during the COVID-19 crisis, but CAN stressed that the efforts of the business aviation community remain essential because many cancer patients must continue with their treatments. “Those who are requesting to fly with CAN are in urgent need, and we will continue to exhaust all options to serve them,” said CAN executive director Gina Russo.

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The organization provides free rides on business jets to patients needing treatment away from home.

Some corporate flight departments have discontinued certain routes or curbed their operations. But, Russo said, “We are still receiving available flights from other partner flight departments.”

In fact, some operators have dedicated flights for CAN patients, saying they were honored to help, she noted. This was the case with the transport of three-year-old Giovana, who lives in California and is receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. A CAN volunteer flew her home when operations began to dwindle. “Knowing that CAN is still in high demand with a decreasing supply of flights, a participating CAN partner offered to fly Giovana home even though it didn’t have a scheduled business activity,” the organization reported.

“We are constantly reminded of the generosity of the business aviation community and thankful to have such great partners who make the CAN mission possible,” Russo said.

CAN is closely coordinating with hospitals and other cancer organizations, to ensure that they know its efforts are continuing. As for participating operators, CAN notes that these missions can serve as an opportunity for pilots to maintain hours and for those repositioning aircraft for maintenance or other purposes.