Vancouver International Airport and WestJet are launching a new pilot program which will make COVID-19 testing available to WestJet passengers on select departing flights out of YVR.
The two companies aim to launch the pilot – which will “incorporate current best practices on testing” – this fall, according to a joint statement by YVR CEO Tamara Vrooman and WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims.
Vrooman and Sims said the project is a “natural evolution of our historical commitment” to safety, while “instilling confidence for those who need to travel.”
Cases of COVID-19 have been detected on multiple flights into and out of B.C., with public exposures posted near-daily to the BC Centre for Disease Control’s website. The federal government maintains a similar list.
So far in August, the BCCDC has flagged 54 flights for possible COVID-19 exposure.
Data collected from the pilot project will be used to help improve travel and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the statement, by working with government and health authorities, and partnering with academia.
“We understand that COVID-19 testing is a rapidly evolving field with many unknowns,” said Vrooman and Sims.
“But we also know that we must continue to search for solutions – and that means being proactive, trialing processes, seeing what works and what needs improvement – all in an effort to help restart the global aviation industry in a safe manner and do our part to support economic recovery.”
Air travel will take “considerable time” to return to pre-pandemic levels and COVID-19 will “likely have a long-lasting impact on health screening in the travel journey,” they added.
Further information about the project and its launch will be announced in the coming days and weeks, according to the release.