Tuesday,  January 26, 2021  7:00 pm

WestJet & YVR prepare for COVID-19 pilot project takeoff

WestJet & YVR prepare for COVID-19 pilot project takeoff
A rendering of where screening tests will be carried out in Vancouver.

As they prepare for their COVID-19 rapid test pilot for domestic flights departing from YVR, WestJet and Vancouver International Airport (YVR) are applauding the pilot program for Canadians arriving from international destinations at YYC that has been announced last week by the governments of Alberta and Canada .

“We think the Alberta pilot compliments our next pilot,” said Robyn McVicker of YVR administration and Billy Nolen of WestJet.

A science-based approach

MM. McVicker and Nolen emphasize that a science-based approach to improve public confidence in air travel.

“When we embarked on our pilot project, we did so with two objectives in mind, which is to test the drug tests and test the process,” they explain.

READ MORE: WestJet, YVR team up with UBC for COVID-19 rapid testing study

Choose the right test

As there are many testing technologies, the first objective of the partners is to select a type of rapid screening test which is useful in an airport environment and which has a high potential for future approval by Health Canada.

“We have chosen Citizen Care Pod to provide a ready-to-use screening station that will be placed on the sidewalk outside the check-in area for WestJet's internal flights to YVR,” said Messrs. McVicker and Nolen.

The 40-foot module will provide a private, safe and comfortable environment for performing screening tests, complete with temperature control and HEPA filters to ensure the air is as sterile as in any hospital environment.

A quick and easy process

The tests will involve a simple process - a brief consultation with the research coordinators before being tested, then a short questionnaire before receiving the results, ensuring that participants aren't extending their time spent at the airport by much.

WestJet and YVR will share their expertise to ensure a rapid screening program is in place in a real airport environment.

“For example, we have decided to go ahead with a four-hour-per-day test window to capture departures from WestJet domestic flights rather than targeting specific routes. "

In addition, the pilot project will target residents of the Lower Mainland to ensure that anyone who tests positive can easily return home.

Strong support for testing 

“It is important to note that less than one percent of passengers who took WestJet flights were diagnosed with COVID-19 after their trip and are known to have had no transmission to edge," said MM. McVicker and Nolen .

WestJet and YVR have conducted public surveys to better understand the willingness to be tested - "because the participation of travellers will be key to the success of our pilot project with volunteers."

"We are delighted to report that almost two-thirds of travellers consulted expressed strong support for rapid screening tests performed at the airport," concluded Robyn McVicker and Billy Nolen, welcoming the progress made at the November is approaching.

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