Holiday firms cancel flights to Rhodes as thousands evacuated from burning wildfires

Thousands of locals and holidaymakers have been evacuated to safety

Package holiday firms Jet2 and Tui have said they will cancel all flights and booked holidays to Rhodes until Wednesday due to raging wildfires on the island.

There are no direct flights to the Greek island from Scotland today, however, British holidaymakers were able to fly from Manchester, Nottingham and London.

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Other travel companies, however, have come under fire after continuing to operate flights – while tourists trying to get home from Rhodes said they had been stuck at the airport overnnight without any information about when they would depart.

This photograph from Saturday shows smoke rising from a burnt hotel complex during a wildfire on the Greek island of Rhodes.This photograph from Saturday shows smoke rising from a burnt hotel complex during a wildfire on the Greek island of Rhodes.
This photograph from Saturday shows smoke rising from a burnt hotel complex during a wildfire on the Greek island of Rhodes.

An easyJet flight from Edinburgh Airport for Monday is still available to book online, as the airline, as well as rival Ryanair, continue to fly holidaymakers to the destination.

Fire fighters are struggling to contain the blaze, which has been raging for days and has seen thousands of locals evacuated from their homes. Temperatures are expected to soar even further in the coming days, up to a high of 45C as southern Europe continues to suffer under a lengthy heatwave.

Flights were still leaving the UK for the island until Sunday morning, with tourism firms in Greece saying just 10 per cent of tourist accommodation was affected by the devastating blaze.

However, videos and photographs posted on social media saw evacuated holidaymakers camping out on sun bed cushions in the lobbies of other hotels.

The deputy mayor of Rhodes, Athanasios Vyrinis, said the local government was struggling to host evacuees.

More than 3,500 people have been evacuated by land and sea, while a further 1,200 will be evacuated from the three villages of Pefki, Lindos and Kalathos. A total of 19,000 people have been evacuated due to wildfires across Greece, in what is believed to be the largest-ever evacuation situation in the country.

"Unfortunately, the essentials are not enough, there is only water and some rudimentary food,” said Mr Vyrinis. “People sit on steps and on school desks. They open cardboard boxes and sleep there.”

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He said: “We appeal to our fellow citizens to take these people to their homes to spend the night.”

British author Patricia Wilson took to social media to post a photograph of an idyllic seascape scene on Rhodes.

She said: “I just want to confirm that while the fire in the centre of the island, running down to the south coast at Pefkos and Lindos is a heartbreaking tragedy, most of Rhodes is safe and working as usual. There is no smoke or fire here.

"This photo is taken from my roof, next to the airport in Paradissi, looking through the areas of Kremasti, Ialissos, and Ixia to the aquarium on the point of Rhodes town which is 15 km away. I hope this helps to reassure you at home.”

Tui said: “The situation in the Southern part of Rhodes remains volatile and challenging.

“Due to this and considering the impact on local communities being affected, TUI has decided to cancel all flights and booked holidays to Rhodes for departures up to and including Tuesday 25 July.”

Jet2 said customers would be entitled to a refund and to rebook their holidays, adding it would fly empty aircraft to the island to bring back stranded holidaymakers.

"We will fly those five aircraft to Rhodes with no customers onboard, so that we can bring customers back to the UK on their scheduled flight,” the company said.

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EasyJet said: “We are currently operating as normal to Rhodes however we continue to closely monitor the situation. We advise customers travelling to and from Rhodes to check the status of their flights on Flight Tracker.

“EasyJet is currently working to comply with requests of the local authorities, and is in contact with customers in resort to support them. The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is our highest priority.”



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