As repatriation flights begin shuttling stranded tourists home, the anger facing holiday companies is mounting.
In one shelter near Rhodes Town, reporters met British holidaymakers who were flown onto the island even as resorts were being evacuated.
People like Jason Robinson, whose group spent £6,000 per person for a Greek holiday only to be taken straight to a local school where they’re now sleeping on the floor.
He said that his plane was delayed from taking off due to the fires but when they asked if it was safe to travel to Rhodes they were assured everything was fine.
“I think the holiday company is disgusting. They really just treated us with a complete lack of respect. The complaint, they don’t seem to be remotely interested in it,” he said.
“Once we arrived at the airport, it was very clear that flights were still arriving from the UK. It was just incomprehensible that they allowed us to fly and that they were allowing flights to carry on afterwards.”
Overnight flights from TUI and Jet2 took passengers back to UK
Three TUI flights took place overnight to return people to the UK from Rhodes, the company has said.
“We’re now working hard to get everybody home safely with our first passengers returning to the UK on three dedicated flights overnight and plans in place to get everyone affected back as soon as possible,” a spokesperson for TUI UK and Ireland said in a statement today.
The first unscheduled Jet2 flight from Rhodes landed in Leeds late last night. The airline has announced three further rescue flights on top of the 50 scheduled flights operating.
Jet2’s repatriation flights are as follows:
- Rhodes to Manchester, departing tonight with 220 seats
- Rhodes to Leeds Bradford, departing tonight with 189 seats
- Rhodes to Birmingham, departing tonight with 189 seats
The company said: “We have significantly increased our presence on the island too, with experienced colleagues arriving from other destinations, as well as a dedicated senior team flying from the UK to Rhodes yesterday.
“These colleagues are there to look after our customers in evacuation centres, in resorts, and at Rhodes Airport. We also have staffed transfer coaches taking customers to the airport from evacuation centres today.”
Fresh evacuations on Rhodes
People in Gennadi and Vati have been told to evacuate by the Emergency Communications Service.
Some 19,000 people have already been told to evacuate from several locations on the island as wildfires burned for a sixth day.
The ministry of climate change and civil protection said it was “the largest evacuation from wildfire in the country”.
Romanian firefighting team joins battle against Rhodes wildfires
Firefighting teams from Romania have arrived in Rhodes to help crews tackle the wildfires that have now raged on the island for days.
The group, made up of 52 soldiers and several firefighting vehicles, will join Greek and Slovak firefighters already battling the flames.
As we reported in our previous post, around 19,000 people have already been evacuated from several areas of the Greek island.
Some 16,000 of those were evacuated by land, while 3,000 were taken to safety in boats.