A new pilot taking flight

Co-authored by:
Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO
Tamara Vrooman, Vancouver Airport Authority CEO

WestJet and Vancouver International Airport (YVR) are embarking on a new pilot project that will incorporate COVID-19 testing for WestJet guests on select departing flights out of YVR. The pilot, which we aim to launch this fall, will incorporate current best practices on testing, pulling together industry players and experts to lead in the research and development of solutions that support aviation safety and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Why are we doing this? Our industry has always been heavily focused on safety and for us this pilot is a natural evolution of our historical commitment. It supports our efforts to uphold top safety standards, while instilling confidence for those who need to travel. It’s also about building collective knowledge and literacy, which will help inform longer-term solutions around communicable diseases.

We are working with government and health authorities to ensure the data we collect is useful for their purposes and we will be partnering with academia to marry our expertise in passenger movements to science. Our team will closely scrutinize the trial results to learn how we can further improve travel processes and evolve our safety measures as required.

We understand that COVID-19 testing is a rapidly evolving field with many unknowns. 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.

We know air travel will take considerable time to recover to pre-pandemic levels and that COVID-19 will likely have a long-lasting impact on health screening in the travel journey. And this is why we have a valuable role to play: because airlines and airports are about much more than just travel—we are major economic drivers, creating jobs, connecting markets, economies and ensuring that essential goods and services can be where they need to be.

We will make sure to update you in the days and weeks ahead as we further develop this pilot and plan for its launch. In the meantime, we will continue to do our best to serve you and support our many partners and our employees in the global fight against COVID-19.

Thank you, on behalf of WestJet and YVR, for your continued patience and support during this unprecedented time. Be safe.