Moving beyond fixed airport screening stations, Air Canada wants to introduce portable Covid-19 tests into its passenger experience. Rose Dykins reports

Air Canada is exploring portable Covid-19 test devices to add another “layer of biosafety” to its health and safety measures.

The airline is collaborating with Spartan Bioscience Inc – an Ottawa-based biotech company that specialises in portable DNA testing – to identify the best way to use Covid test methods wherever they are needed in an aviation environment.

Spartan is developing a swab for collecting DNA samples for its Covid-19 test. The company is also working on a test cartridge that chemically reacts to indicate a positive of negative result, and its Spartan Cube product – a portable DNA analyser device. Both of the latter are subject to approval from Health Canada.

coronavirus test in lab“Spartan is excited to explore how our fast, portable testing technology can help keep Air Canada employees and the travelling public safe as Canada’s economy re-opens,” says Nick Noreau, Spartan Bioscience’s chief revenue officer.

Samuel Elfassy, vice-president of safety at Air Canada, says: ”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. 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.”

In May, the airline launched its Air Canada CleanCare+ programme, introducing biosafety measures at each stage of the passenger journey.

It was one of the first airlines globally to make onboard face coverings mandatory, and was the first carrier in the Americas to take customers’ temperatures before boarding.

Last month, Air Canada reopened its Maple Leaf lounges with new precautions in place. These include compulsory face coverings for staff and customers, plexiglass partitions at welcome desks, pre-packaged grab-and-go food and refreshments, and a modified drinks service.

Air Canada Montreal lounge

The lounges’ seating and restrooms are continually cleaned, and the airline has enhanced its cleaning procedures to incorporate electrostatic units and medical grade disinfectants.

Maple Leaf lounges will now also offer several touchless features, including all reading materials available only in digital format through PressReader.

Air Canada has also pledged to adding new processes and technologies as the become available.

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