In a pilot project that will begin next month, some WestJet passengers will be offered a pre-boarding COVID-19 test at YVR.

“We’ve partnered with WestJet and now also the University of British Columbia to make it voluntary on select domestic flights, likely flights in western Canada,” said airport president and CEO Tamara Vrooman.

The exact test that will be administered to passengers has yet to be determined, but it will have to provide a result quickly.

“We are trying to look at something that of course balances accuracy with quick turn around times” said Vrooman.

Allison Wallace with Flight Centre thinks airport testing will provide another layer of security for nervous passengers.

“People need to feel safe,” she said. “You could lift all the reductions tomorrow, but people still will need to feel safe, and I think testing is absolutely key to that.”

While pre-boarding COVID-19 testing is voluntary during the pilot project, Wallace thinks it could one day become the norm. “People should be prepared for this possibly being mandatory,” she said

Vrooman agrees that’s a possibility, saying “I think that's certainly one of the scenarios we’re looking at, just like after 9/11 safety and security checks became a normal part of travel.”

If that happens, the airport will need to figure out how to test thousands of passengers without taking resources away from public health.

“So we’re protecting that lab system for the public that needs it, and we are also solving a problem here at the airport in terms of what our passengers need,” said Vrooman.

She hopes to have results from the pilot project by the end of the year.

“And then we can make decisions on how best to administer it long term."