Photo Credit: Corporate Angel Network

April 22, 2020

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business aircraft operations across the U.S., Corporate Angel Network (CAN) continues to arrange travel onboard business aircraft for cancer patients flying to and from critical treatment appointments.

Many flight operations have been largely idled by the pandemic as a result of shelter-in-place restrictions on travel. However, several operators have reached out to CAN to perform dedicated flights for patients in need, rather than the traditional practice of filling empty seats on aircraft otherwise traveling on company business.

Samantha Lohse, senior program manager for CAN, noted the situation has driven the organization to adjust its normal operating model. “Now, operators are looking at our list [of patient travel needs] and figuring out how they can make it work. We’re proud to be flexible and work with companies in the capacity that is best for them.”

Recent flights arranged by CAN include transporting a patient who was accepted to a first-of-its-kind clinical treatment trial. Other patients have been returned home following completion of treatments that began prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Thankfully, business aviation has rallied to help, as our industry always has in times of crisis,” Lohse said. “We’ve received calls from companies large and small, and even those without an aircraft tell us they just want to do something to help because they know we need it. It’s been truly heartwarming to see.”

Although CAN has seen flight requests decrease over the past month, Lohse emphasized that those that remain are for patients in most need of the organization’s services. “Hospitals have delayed appointments for patients stable enough to wait until the crisis passes, but there are no other options for any patient who needs to travel right now,” she added.

Lohse also expressed appreciation to CAN partner NetJets, whose members have donated flight hours for the organization’s use when necessary to complete a mission. She further encouraged NBAA members to contact the organization to learn how they may be able to help.

“If you’ve ever considered working with CAN, now’s the time,” Lohse said. “I welcome the opportunity to discuss how we could partner now or in the future. The truth is we can’t always perform a flight, but we can say ‘yes’ more often as resources increase.”

“Unfortunately, even with most of our country shut down, cancer hasn’t taken a break.”