Air Canada Explores COVID Testing Amid New Partnership With The Cleveland Clinic

It’s been an eventful week for Air Canada when it comes to new announcements. In the last three days, the airline made public its involvement in two partnerships. One alliance is with Canadian bioscience company Spartan Bioscience, and the other is with Cleveland Clinic Canada. Both decisions are intended to provide greater peace of mind and reassurance to the public that traveling with the airline can and will be as safe as possible. This is despite the airline recently ending its social distancing policy of blocking the middle seat.

Air Canada A330
Air Canada is looking into portable COVID-19 testing technology through the research and development of Spartan Bioscience. Photo: Air Canada

Portable COVID-19 testing with Air Canada

While nothing has been rolled out to the public just yet, Air Canada announced that it had engaged Spartan Bioscience Inc., an Ottawa-based “biotechnology leader in portable DNA testing technology.” The airline will assess how best to deploy Spartan’s portable COVID-19 testing technology in the aviation sector.

“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,”Samuel Elfassy, Vice President, Safety at Air Canada

Spartan Bioscience
The Spartan Cube hopes to provide portable COVID-19 testing, with results in under an hour. Photo: Spartan Bioscience

Spartan is in the process of developing a proprietary swab for the collection of DNA samples for its COVID-19 test. While the technology is exciting and has the potential to assist in safe travel during the pandemic, Spartan’s test cartridge (reagents) and the Spartan Cube (portable DNA analyzer device) remain subject to Health Canada approval and thus cannot be implemented yet.

“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,”Nick Noreau, Spartan Bioscience’s Chief Revenue Officer

Partnering with Cleveland Clinic

The day after Air Canada’s Spartan Bioscience announcement, the airline announced a partnership with Cleveland Clinic. This move was done to “provide medical advisory services as the airline further develops biosafety measures across its operations.

The airline says it will have access to the local expertise of Cleveland Clinic Canada as well as clinical expertise from Cleveland Clinic’s worldwide enterprise system.

“It is an honor to use our 99 years of clinical expertise to support Canadian organizations in a way that helps protect our communities.” -Michael Kessel, Cleveland Clinic Canada, CEO and President

As the Medical Advisor to Air Canada, Cleveland Clinic will provide access to leading expertise, including guidance on:

  • Infectious exposure and toxicology
  • Pandemic and infrastructure response planning and prevention
  • Medical contingency plans and process development
  • Crisis and organizational risk management
United Airlines Hygiene
United is serious about its hygiene policies. Photo: United Airlines

Cleveland Clinic’s other airline partnership

Air Canada is actually not the first airline to partner with Cleveland Clinic. In fact, United Airlines was the first carrier to do so, announcing its partnership with the medical institute at the end of May.

Air Canada is a close Star Alliance partner with United Airlines. Therefore, customers traveling with the two North American carriers will hopefully have extra peace of mind when stepping on an aircraft.

Do these latest announcements regarding health and safety protocols make you feel safer about traveling with Air Canada? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.