Source: National World
Ryanair has issued an update to UK holidaymakers on flights to Greece as the country battles raging wildfires amid a record-setting heatwave.
The budget airline has confirmed it is still operating flights to Greece despite the wildfires, including flights to the island of Rhodes where evacuation flights are currently underway.
Ryanair’s chief financial officer Neil Sorahan reportedly said, while revealing the airline’s first-quarter results, the group was still operating a “full schedule” of flights to the fire-ravaged island, but is not yet putting on additional flights.
In an update to passengers on Sunday (23 July), Ryanair said: “Ryanair flights to/from Rhodes and Corfu are currently operating as normal and unaffected by the forest fires. Passengers departing from Rhodes should be advised that we will accept temporary travel documentation issued by the Greek Police.
“The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also set up a helpdesk at Rhodes airport to assist visitors who have lost their travel documents. Please check your Ryanair app where you will be notified of any changes to your Ryanair flight.”
The update comes as thousands of tourists have been forced to flee the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu after fires continued to spread over the weekend.
Greek authorities said 19,000 people have been evacuated from Rhodes so far - 16,000 by land and 3,000 by the sea - with the Ministry of Climate Change and Civil Protection describing it as “the largest evacuation from a wildfire in the country”.
The wildfire had been confined to the island’s mountainous center but, due to high temperatures, dry conditions, and winds, spread on Saturday (22 July) towards the coast on the central-eastern side of the island. The fire service later warned that more fires could break out as temperatures are forecast to reach a scorching 45C.
The British ambassador to Greece said the Foreign Office had sent a “rapid deployment team” to help UK tourists who have been forced to flee. A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: “We are actively monitoring the fires in Rhodes and are in close contact with local authorities.
“The FCDO has deployed a Rapid Deployment Team (RDT) of five FCDO staff and four British Red Cross responders to Rhodes to support British nationals whose safety is our top priority. They will be based at Rhodes International Airport to assist with travel documents and liaise with Greek authorities and travel operators on the ground.
“British nationals in Rhodes should contact their travel operator in the first instance for any queries regarding the rescheduling of flights and continue to check our updated gov. uk travel advice for information.”
The latest advice from the UK Foreign Office is that British holidaymakers currently in Rhodes should contact the Greek government’s crisis management unit.
The first repatriation flights are due to arrive on fire-ravaged Rhodes today (24 July) to rescue holidaymakers stuck in a “living nightmare”. easyJet is operating two rescue flights totaling 421 seats on Monday and a third on Tuesday, in addition to its nine scheduled flights to the Greek island.
Some flights out of Rhodes were delayed on Sunday night, including an easyJet flight due to arrive in Gatwick at 9 pm which touched down at 11.30 pm after stopping for a crew change in Milan.
A later easyJet flight landed at Gatwick at 2.23 am, an hour and a half after it was due, while there were further delays amid the overnight flights from Jet2 and Tui to Nottingham, Birmingham, Stansted, Manchester, and Newcastle.
Further, easyJet, Jet2, and Ryanair flights from Rhodes were scheduled to arrive at Gatwick, Stansted, and Bristol on Monday afternoon.