Air Canada’s new winter sun offers includes Sun Flight Pass 

Air Canada close to finalizing order for COVID-19 rapid testing kits

MONTREAL — Air Canada is one step closer to launching rapid testing of COVID-19 as part of its ongoing evaluation of testing technology and protocols.

Canada’s largest airline is finalizing an initial order of Abbott’s ID NOW COVID-19 rapid response tests just one month after partnering with McMaster Health Labs (MHL) and the Greater Toronto airports Authority (GTAA) in a study of arriving international travellers at Toronto-Pearson. Preliminary results from that study indicate testing can help protect customers and facilitate the safe relaxation of government travel restrictions.

Earlier this week, the federal government announced the extension of the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all passengers arriving in or returning to Canada to Oct. 31.

According to Dr. Jim Chung, Air Canada’s Chief Medical Officer, Air Canada’s initial order from Abbott is for 25,000 rapid test kits, which has now been approved for use in Canada, for voluntary employee testing.

“Understanding that we will need to live alongside this virus for the short- to medium-term, we have been pursuing relationships and a layered approach as a way to keep our employees and our customers safe,” he said. “We believe testing will be key to protecting employees and customers until such time as a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Rapid testing is also a means to enable governments to relax current blanket travel restrictions and quarantines in a measured way while still safeguarding the health and safety of the public.”

Chung went on to say that Air Canada continues to believe in the effectiveness of testing, including self-administered testing, based on the survey’s preliminary results, which “suggest a shorter, test-based strategy may be an available and safe alternative to the 14-day quarantine.”

Since the Toronto-Pearson study began Sept. 3, MHL has conducted nearly 13,000 tests of returning international travellers who volunteered to participate. Of those, more than 99% have tested negative for COVID-19 with less than 1% having indicated COVID-19. Of the less than 1% indicating COVID-19, more than 80% are being detected in the initial test and the rest on the Day 7 test, with none being detected by the Day 14 test. More information about the MHL study can be found here.

Virgilio Russi, Air Canada’s managing director of sales, International, also reiterated the importance of testing during Travelweek’s ‘Caribbean Comeback’ virtual conference yesterday. As one of the event’s keynote speakers, Russi highlighted the various destinations in the Caribbean that Air Canada will service this winter season, the benefits of Air Canada’s new COVID-19 travel insurance, the negative impact of Canada’s ongoing mandatory quarantine and how testing can prove to be a suitable alternative. To watch the conference in its entirety, click here.

Get travel news right to your inbox!