More routes in jeopardy post-COVID but Air Canada says it will wait on govt. talks

Air Canada looking into possible rapid COVID-19 test

MONTREAL — Air Canada is working on a rapid test for COVID-19 that will add another “effective layer” of protection for travellers.

The airline has engaged Spartan Bioscience Inc., an Ottawa-based biotechnology leader in portable DNA testing technology, to assess how its portable COVID-19 testing technology can best be deployed in the aviation sector.

Spartan is currently developing a proprietary swab for the collection of DNA samples for its COVID-19 test. Its test cartridge (reagents) and the Spartan Cuba (portable DNA analyzer device) remain subject to Health Canada approval.

“We are excited by the potential and point of care use cases for the Spartan Cube and look forward to working with the Spartan team in the weeks and months ahead,” said Samuel Elfassy, Vice President, Safety at Air Canada. “Air Canada’s strategy for managing COVID-19 has been to develop and apply multiple layers of biosafety measures for customers and employees. We believe the availability of a rapid, accurate, portable molecular test for COVID-19 will add yet another effective layer.”

The potential for a rapid test is the latest safety measure taken by Air Canada in recent months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was among the first carriers globally to require face coverings onboard, and was the first airline in the Americas to take customers’ temperatures prior to boarding. And in May, it launched the Air Canada CleanCare+ program to ensure biosafety measures at each stage of a traveller’s journey.