MPs call for Rhodes travel ban as airlines continue to fly to island from where tourists are fleeing

Rhodes travel ban
By Linsey McNeill
25/07/2023
Home » MPs call for Rhodes travel ban as airlines continue to fly to island from where tourists are fleeing

MPs have called on the Foreign Office to advise against non-essential travel to the Greek island of Rhodes so holidaymakers can cancel their trips without losing their money.

Tory MP Alicia Kearns, who chairs the Commons foreign affairs select committee, told The Guardian she backs calls for the Government to advise against travel to Rhodes, where wildfires have forced tourists to flee from their hotels.

However, she added: “The reality of the government’s position is in line with our allies in Europe, because no one wants to compromise Greece’s heavily tourism-dependent economy at this time.”

Instead, she called on travel companies to ‘live up to their obligations rather than making profits from flights carrying tourists out’.

She accused operators of ‘then stepping away and letting the Government sort out how to get them home in some cases’.

TUI and Jet2 have cancelled flights and holidays to Rhodes this week and sent aircraft to bring back stranded customers, but while easyJet has cancelled package holidays until today – and it has organised repatriation flights –  it is continuing to operate scheduled flights to the island, as are Ryanair and British Airways.

EasyJet is giving flight-only customers due to travel up to 29 July the option to switch to another flight or take a voucher for the value of their ticket.

Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs have also backed calls for Rhodes to be added to the Foreign Office ‘no-go’ list, according to The Guardian.

“Many families are unable to make a claim against their insurance – leaving them paying the penalty for deciding not to fly out to the island,” Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Layla Moran told the paper.

Meanwhile, an easyJet pilot allegedly told a plane-load of passengers leaving Gatwick for Rhodes that travelling to the island was ‘a terrible idea’.

 Journalist Gwyn Loader, who was on the flight to report for BBC Wales’ Welsh-language news programme Newyddion, said eight passengers subsequently decided to disembark, including a young boy who was in tears, according to newspaper reports.

The pilot told allegedly told passengers over the loudspeaker: “Travelling to Rhodes for a holiday at the moment is a terrible idea.”

EasyJet disputed the reports, saying one person had got off the plane when they received a message that their hotel was closed, and another group decided to disembark also, after which the pilot spoke to passengers asking if anyone else would like to get off.

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