Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and the earthquakes in Mexico spotlight the role of private aviation in disaster recovery
While articles about the use and what seems like the misuse of private jets by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price are grabbing most of the headlines, private jet owners and operators are continuing their role as unsung heroes following Hurricanes Irma and Maria and the earthquakes in Mexico.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban provided his private jet to the team’s point guard J.J. Barea, who according to CBS News accompanied 32 generators, 14,000 pounds of water, 10,000 pounds of food, 3,000 pounds of medical supplies and many other much-needed necessities to Puerto Rico. “As soon as I told (Cuban) I was doing this, (he was) like, ‘Go, go, go, go, go,'” Barea said in the report. He then used the billionaire’s plane to bring back his mother, filling empty seats with strangers who needed medical attention.
Separately, TIME reported Pitbull sent his private jet to San Juan to fly cancer patients who needed chemotherapy treatments to the mainland. The gesture only came to light when Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez took to Twitter thanking the music star, tweeting, “Thank you @pitbull for lending your private plane to move cancer patients from PR to USA so that they can get chemo.”
Air Partner, which sells jet cards, on-demand charter and manages aircraft, said it successfully evacuated over 200 people from the Caribbean during Hurricane Irma. During the last several weeks I have spoken to numerous private aviation brokers and operators who have been and still are working around the clock to help bring people out of harm’s way, bring people back after the disasters and shuttle in supplies while taking out those who have immediate medical needs.
“We are pleased that we were able to airlift so many people to safety before Hurricane Irma made landfall, with many companies heeding our advice to plan ahead,” said David McCown, president of Air Partner U.S.
At the same time owners who fled the storms sent their planes back to take more people out of danger and then owners from all over have been using their private jets to fly supplies to the distressed areas. Facebook is filled with snapshots of private jets loaded with diapers, baby formula, drinking water and other necessary supplies.
While it’s likely private jets will be in the news for the remainder of the current news cycle mainly for the travels of Secretary Price, I hope folks remember that while private jets can be misused, it shouldn’t reflect on the industry, including the direct jet owners who often jump in to lend a hand, usually quietly, not seeking any recognition for their contributions.