"It's a scary situation right now," says Sydney Airport Authority CEO, Mike MacKinnon, noting the Sydney to Halifax route has been in place for nearly 80 years – saving many Cape Breton travellers four hours of driving to Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

The future of commercial air travel to and from Cape Breton is up in the air at Sydney Airport. With Air Canada announcing the cancellation of Sydney to Halifax flights for the month of November, it's another huge pandemic-related setback. However, those with a stake in the airport are uniting to save the invaluable resource.

The only remaining airline serving the Sydney Airport, Air Canada's flight cuts came as a shock to many people.

"It's a scary situation right now," says Sydney Airport Authority CEO, Mike MacKinnon, noting the Sydney to Halifax route has been in place for nearly 80 years – saving many Cape Breton travellers four hours of driving to Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

Adding to the airport's misfortune, WestJet announced it would be suspending its service in Sydney in September.

Currently, the only flights remaining for the airport are five flights to Toronto which depart each week – leaving the future of the Sydney Airport in jeopardy.

"It would be a blow not only to the CBRM but to the entire island," says Cape Breton Regional Municipality mayor-elect, Amanda McDougall.

McDougall says she's spent plenty of time speaking with stakeholders, hoping to save what she describes as an essential link for the island's economy, as well as tourism.

"We have international students coming in here on a regular basis; we're just preparing to welcome them again. We have travellers who work out West, who are coming back and forth," says McDougall. "This is going to be a huge blow to our very community fabric as well."

MacKinnon says he's been in talks with Air Canada; however, with demand for air travel decimated by COVID-19, he fears Air Canada will be forced to cancel more flights in the coming winter months – potentially leading to a permanent loss of Sydney to Halifax air travel.

"I have my fingers crossed that our Toronto flight will be maintained," says MacKinnon. "It's our one link for air service right now. I'd love to see Halifax come back."

MacKinnon says he's calling for government action and hopes rapid COVID-19 testing will help reduce quarantine measures and allow the airport to welcome more travellers. He adds the situation should serve as a rallying cry for the future of commercial air travel to and from the island.

"Write to the MLA's, provincially, and to the federal MP's, and express your concern that the airport is in jeopardy," says MacKinnon.

McDougall says a team effort is needed to support the airport.

"We need to stand united and make sure the municipality, our chambers of commerce, our partnerships, everybody on the ground here is standing together saying 'we are here to do whatever we possibly can to ensure that our regional airport has a future,'" says McDougall.

Meanwhile, McDougall says she will be reaching out to the office of Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil prior to the Council of Atlantic Premiers meeting on Tuesday. McDougall notes she will ask for help for the airport and make it known that its stakeholders are prepared to do whatever they can to support the future of air travel in the region.