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March 27, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
Mergers and flight-department closures have reduced the number of corporate jets available to the Corporate Angel Network for transportation of ambulant cancer patients. Although the network has 566 corporations signed up to donate transportation, the ones lost were among those offering a large number of flights.
“Business aviation is under heavy fire these days. But the 500-plus major corporations that provide critically needed empty seats to cancer patients who must travel for life-prolonging treatment is a wonderful example of the humanitarian side of big business,” said Corporate Angel Network Executive Director Peter Fleiss.
General Motors flew 100 or more patients since joining the Corporate Angel Network, and the Ford Motor Company flew at least 200 cancer patients. General Motors is selling its seven aircraft and has fired its 49 employees in the flight department. The Corporate Angel Network has lost between 15 and 20 major corporations, including the large car companies. Half of the Fortune 100, the very largest companies of all kinds, participate in the patient transportation service. Patients share the cabin with corporate CEOs and top officials.
Often patients are too weak following chemical and radiation treatments to deal with commercial airline service. The challenges include standing for extended periods of time in security lines and removing coats and shoes. The Corporate Angel Network allows patients a chance to spend less time in travel with minimum exertion.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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