CAN Volunteers Step Up for Cancer Patients Amid Covid-19 Crisis

 - April 2, 2020, 11:10 AM
The Corporate Angel Network is finding some operators willing to dedicate flights to transport cancer patients to treatment during the Covid-19 crisis as was the case with three-year-old Giovana, who flew from California to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. (Photo: Corporate Angel Network)

This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.

While Covid-19 has dampened business aircraft operations, one critical set of flights soldiering through the Covid-19 crisis are those for the Corporate Angel Network (CAN), the charitable organization that arranges travel aboard empty seats of 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 critical 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.

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 but is receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. One such CAN volunteer flew her home when operations began to dwindle, CAN cited as an example. “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 the medical community, including hospitals and other cancer organizations, to ensure they know the organization’s efforts are continuing and remain a resource. As for participating operators, CAN notes these missions can serve as an opportunity for pilots to maintain hours or for those repositioning aircraft for maintenance or other purposes.