SYDNEY, N.S. -- The tarmac at the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport was empty Thursday.

Inside, the facility was in darkness, and the future of commercial air travel on the island up in the air.

"Having continual cuts to our small regional airport cuts our region off from essentially the rest of the country," said Kathleen Yurchesyn of the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce.

First it was Westjet that grounded service between Sydney and Halifax, and now Air Canada has cut their flights through the holiday season, not resuming until at least Jan. 20th, 2021.

"People are very concerned because they made plans to come home," said Mike MacKinnon, the Sydney airport CEO. "Some people have made plans to come home in earlier December and do the two-week isolation and then stay longer for the holidays. But now those air links may not be there for them."

The federal government has announced plans to provide financial assistance to airlines, but those funds depend on carriers providing refunds to passengers for cancelled flights.

"The longer we go without air service on this route, the more difficult its going to be to get it re-established," said MacKinnon

He says dozens of jobs have been affected with the loss of air service. He says there is only one commercial flight from Toronto, five times a week.

Business minister Geoff MacLellan says the loss of air service will have major economic impacts on the island.

"The J.A. McCurdy Sydney Airport is very much the economic barometer for the island," he said.

The chamber of commerce wants rapid testing  so some rules can be relaxed when it comes to travel outside the Atlantic bubble.