VANCOUVER -- Nearly 600 people volunteered to take COVID-19 rapid tests before departing on flights out of Vancouver International Airport this winter, and all of those tests came back negative, the airport authority announced Wednesday.

The pilot program offered rapid antigen testing to passengers in WestJet's domestic check-in area at YVR from November 2020 to February 2021.

Participants were required to be B.C. residents between the ages of 19 and 80 who had not tested positive for COVID-19 in the 90 days before their departure.

In a news release, the airport authority described participant feedback as "resoundingly positive," and said the pilot project "could contribute to a future testing framework for the broader travel industry."

Researchers from the University of British Columbia and Providence Health Care conducted the study, collecting samples at a testing station and providing the results to passengers before their departure, a process that took a total of 15 to 20 minutes, according to the airport authority.

"Results gathered were further validated through PCR testing in a lab environment," the authority said in its release.

Though none of the tests came back positive, the researchers concluded that the rate of transmissible infections among passengers departing YVR is likely to be "extremely low," according to the airport authority.

“Rapid antigen testing is a critically important tool – and perhaps an underutilized tool – in our ability to prevent and control COVID-19," said Dr. Marc Romney, a UBC professor and one of the study's principal investigators.

"The findings from our study provide further evidence that this technology can be successfully deployed in an airport setting, and that rapid antigen testing performs surprisingly well – even in a low-prevalence population, such as air travellers.”

While international travellers bound for Canada are required to show proof of a negative PCR test before being allowed to board their flights, no such requirement exists for domestic travellers.

Every day, the BCCDC reports multiple flights to and from B.C. airports that have coronavirus cases on board.