YLW joins with LNG Canada to launch innovative COVID-19 rapid screening program
Kelowna International Airport (YLW) is pleased to announce a new initiative with LNG Canada, beginning March 30, which supports a science-based COVID-19 screening program for LNG Canada project workers departing from YLW to Northwest Regional Airport (YXT) in Terrace, B.C.
“We are proud to support an innovative way to help keep essential workers, and the communities in which they work, safe during the pandemic. Implementing rapid antigen tests helps ensure the LNG Canada project continues to progress safely while keeping British Columbians working,” says Sam Samaddar, Airport Director. “Ensuring we keep our community connected to vital destinations in B.C. such as Terrace and Kitimat by offering COVID-19 testing will be key to supporting the recovery of air travel in the region to help drive our economy.”
Rapid antigen detection testing (RADT) is a safe and trusted way to detect specific proteins on the surface of the COVID-19 virus with lab-confirmed test results available within 15 to 20 minutes. Similar COVID-19 rapid testing pilot projects are in place at airports in Nanaimo, Vancouver, and Alberta.
The process for testing LNG Canada project workers is straightforward. A temporary modular clinic and laboratory space has been set up in an unused portion of YLW’s Long-Term Parking Lot. As they arrive at YLW, workers will be screened for COVID-19 through an RADT. Results will be sent via email or text to workers with further check-in instructions. If they test positive, they will be referred to Interior Health for additional testing. All LNG Canada project workers who go through the RADT process are still subject to existing travel measures, including airline health screening questions and a temperature check by Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) personnel at pre-board security.
RADT will be available to LNG Canada project workers flying to the Kitimat site from YLW and testing is available on the day of travel only. Testing is not yet available for the general public departing from YLW. LNG Canada has engaged with Whitecap RSC to conduct the RADT. All tests are supported by external suppliers and do not rely on any public health resources.
COVID-19 rapid antigen testing is an additional measure in place for people working at the LNG Canada project in Kitimat and living in workforce accommodation centres. Canadian North will operate weekly charters to YXT from YLW on the 100 seat BAE 146 aircraft. YLW expects approximately 100 passengers to undergo testing and depart from YLW each week; this will not impact other travellers departing or arriving. YLW continues to demonstrate a rigorous and multi-layered approach to the safety of the public and employees. Ensuring a safe and risk-based approach to the travel experience has been an ongoing focus of YLW operations since the onset of the pandemic. YLW views antigen testing as a positive additional measure of safety and a first step toward the recovery of domestic air travel. The updated passenger forecast for 2021 estimates that the airport will welcome 444,000 travellers, down from a prior estimate of 513,000—and comparable to pre-1995 passenger volumes. The Province is currently advising that travel within and into the province should be for essential purposes only.
Prior to COVID-19, YLW’s total economic impact was 4,545 jobs and $789 million in total economic output to the province of British Columbia. YLW currently offers an average of 14 daily non-stop commercial flights with seven airline partners. For more information, visit ylw.kelowna.ca.
For more information about health and safety measures in place at YLW, visit: ylw.kelowna.ca/HealthyTravel