SCOTS airline Loganair has stepped in to save jobs and vital routes abandoned by defunct carrier Flybe.

The transport firm will take over 16 routes operated by Flybe, and plans to offer 100 jobs to workers made redundant by the airline's collapse.

Thousands of staff are set to lose their jobs, with an estimated 2400 employees now out of work and an additional 1400 jobs throughout the supply chain also now at risk.

The airline, which operated 40% of the country's regional routes, had been struggling for some time but last-ditch talks between the government and its owners secured a short reprieve in January.

However disagreements over the terms of a £100m taxpayer loan, followed by a fall in bookings due to the coronavirus outbreak, marked the death knell for the stricken carrier.

Trade unions, politicians and business leaders have called for help from the government to ensure those affected receive support and regional airports do not suffer as a result of the Flybe closure.

Jamie Stone, Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross raised concerns about Wick John O'Groats airport, which offers two routes to Aberdeen and Edinburgh, one of which was run by Flybe.

It is understood Eastern Airways, a franchise of the defunct carrier, will continue to operate the Wick route however the MP said the government must"guarantee a service for the future" and said: "It is quite clear the Government must step in with a public service obligation that will guarantee a service for the future. A failure to do this is completely unacceptable for us in the far north."

Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon was quizzed over the airline's closure during First Minister's Questions, where she reassured island communities that they would not be affected by the collapse.

She confirmed all routes to the country's most remote locations were operated by Loganair, which will also step in to take over a number of services between Scotland, northern Ireland and England in the coming weeks.

When asked what support would be available for Scottish employees of the grounded airline, Sturgeon said: "My thoughts are very much with all the employees. We understand Flybe has around 300 direct employees at its bases in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. To everybody who was employed by Flybe, my thoughts are with them.

“The Scottish Government will do everything we can to support employees. If employees are facing redundancy, we will provide support through our PACE initiative.

“We hope that other airlines will seek to employ former Flybe staff.”

Yesterday dozens of flights were cancelled across the country with other transport firms stepping to offer help to those stranded.

Around 15,000 Flybe customers were expected to be travelling yesterday and thousands more in the weeks ahead.

The Caledonian sleeper is offering free services for those affected for the next week, while Eastern Airways was offering £60 walk-up tickets yesterday.

Other rail firms agreed yesterday afternoon that they would provide free travel to those affected.

In Westminster, Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Transport, Kelly Tolhurst, told MPs that the Government's "immediate priority" was to support passengers flying home and employees who have lost their jobs.

She also said it was not up to the government to save firms on the brink of collapse.

Tolhurst outlined the Government's plans for regional connectivity and said that they were undertaking a review of transport connections within the UK, which will include regional airports.

The Minister also stated that air passenger duties would be reviewed, while considering climate change targets.

She said: "Unfortunately, in a competitive market, companies do fail, and it is not the role of government to prop them up."

Labour MP Karl Turner, Shadow Transport Minister, said that the collapse of Flybe was "disastrous" for many living in isolated areas reliant on the aviation industry. He asked if the Government will draw on the expertise of the Civil Aviation Authority if other airlines cannot fly home all stranded passengers.

Turner added that the previous plans to help Flybe had not worked, and said the government had "sat on its hands and allowed this to happen"

He also called for reassurance that "vital regional links" would be maintained, and asked what preparations were in place for other airlines which could be affected by a decline in bookings due to coronavirus.