UK airlines are continuing to sell flights for immediate departure from the UK to Rhodes despite the wildfires that have seen thousands of tourists evacuated from the island.

Holiday firms Jet2, the UK’s biggest tour operator, and Tui both announced on Sunday they would be canceling all imminent flights and holidays to Rhodes and offering refunds because of the fires, which have been raging on the Greek island for six days.

But other airlines are continuing to offer seats on flights to Rhodes, and the travel firm Thomas Cook says most of its customers booked to travel on Sunday and Monday are traveling as normal.

From London Gatwick, Monday’s 7pm easyJet flight to Rhodes is on sale for £144 one way. But for those who no longer wish to travel, the airline is allowing changes for passengers booked up to 29 July.

Two easyJet aircraft are also flying out empty to pick up UK holidaymakers wanting to come home early.

British Airways is selling its sole departure for Monday afternoon from Gatwick for £496, though also offering flexibility to travelers with existing bookings to the island.

But Ryanair says its operations to and from Rhodes are normal and that usual conditions apply.

Jet2 and Tui are dispatching aircraft with no passengers from UK airports to Rhodes to pick up holidaymakers. Both have dispatched teams to help customers.

Tui customers on the island are being told: “We are aware that many of our guests are now located at evacuation centers or found temporary shelter at other hotels. We are slowly working on improving the situation for our guests and our teams are working closely with the local authorities.

“Customers currently in Rhodes will return on their intended flight home.”

Holidaymakers were evacuated from their hotels and left their belongings behind


Rhodes airport is on the northwestern shore of the Greek island, close to the capital, Rhodes Town. With no imminent danger in that area, airlines are entitled to operate a “business as usual” policy, with normal terms applying.

But most are expected to provide some options to customers, with package holidaymakers benefiting from extra protection.

It comes after holidaymakers were forced to flee resorts on Saturday, with some British tourists describing “terrifying” scenes of turmoil as power cuts caused “chaos” on the island.

Thousands of tourists have been evacuated


In previous days the wildfire was confined to the island’s mountainous centre, but aided by winds, very high temperatures and dry conditions, it spread on Saturday towards the coast on the island’s central-eastern side.

The Foreign Office updated its foreign travel advice on Saturday on the heatwaves and wildfires in Europe, urging Britons affected by the wildfires in Rhodes to follow the guidance of emergency services, and anyone set to travel to check with their travel operator or hotel.

The FCDO has also sent a Rapid Deployment Team to Rhodes to support British nationals, and the Greek Foreign Affairs ministry has set up a help desk at Rhodes airport.

I am in Rhodes and want to leave as soon as possible. What are my options?

Many tourists are in that position. The first airline to announce it will operate special repatriation flights in addition to the normal schedule is easyJet. Two aircraft will be flown out from Gatwick on Monday, with 421 additional seats to the planned nine flights to the UK.

Another easyJet aircraft will be sent out early from Gatwick on Tuesday, with further rescue flights added if needed.

British Airways says passengers booked to fly from Rhodes to London can switch to earlier flights without penalty – though little space may be available. The earliest BA departure with space available is on Wednesday evening.

Other carriers may adopt a similar policy. But availability is scarce, with no seats on easyJet flights to the London area until late on Tuesday evening, and not before Wednesday to Manchester.

Most airlines are operating their normal schedules, and are likely to continue to do so from Rhodes – though more outbound flights may be empty, as Jet2 and Tui are doing.

Flights are full. Are there any other ways out from the island?

Yes. Dodekanisos Seaways sails once or twice a day from Rhodes Town to Kos, where there are fairly frequent flights to the UK. The 8am sailing is usually the fastest and most reliable, taking around 2h30m. A taxi will take you from the port to the airport in about 30 minutes, with much cheaper but slower buses available.

Flights on Tuesday 25 July include a Ryanair departure to London Stansted which is currently selling at just £37.

The ferry voyage to Marmaris in Turkey is shorter, at around one hour, but the closest airport, Dalaman, is a long way from the town – making for a 90-minute taxi journey or two hours in a bus. In addition the frontier formalities leaving Greece and arriving in Turkey will take time.

I lost my travel documents in the scramble to leave the area. Can I leave the island?

Yes. To help tourists who were evacuated from their accommodation in a hurry and left their passports behind, the Greek authorities are issuing emergency and temporary identification to allow them to board their flights.

Ryanair says: “Passengers departing from Rhodes should be advised that we will accept temporary travel documentation issued by the Greek Police.”

If I am brought home early, will I get some or all of my money back?

Package holidaymakers whose trips are curtailed because their accommodation cannot be used are due a partial refund under the Package Travel Regulations. But it may not be as much as the traveler might expect.

If a two-week holiday that cost £1,000 per person ends a week early, the refund will not simply be half the cost of the trip, ie £500. The holiday company is entitled to subtract the value of the flights, which might be £400 – meaning only half of the remainder will be refunded, ie £300.

If you make the decision to return ahead of schedule, no compensation is due. Travel insurance may help with extra costs if you can demonstrate you spent them reasonably.

I am booked to travel imminently to Rhodes. Can I cancel for a refund?

If the travel firm or airline cancels your trip you can expect a full refund within two weeks. If the flight is going ahead, then your rights depend on whether you are on a proper package holiday or have booked flights and accommodation separately.

Under the Package Travel Regulations, holidaymakers can cancel for a refund “if unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occur at the place of destination or its immediate vicinity which significantly affect the performance of the package or the carriage of passengers to the destination”.

In the case of key parts of Rhodes, this looks like reasonable grounds to cancel.

These are the companies’ policies for imminent departures as of 2pm on Sunday.

  • British Airways: passengers booked to Rhodes in the next week can rebook for a different date up to November 2023.
  • easyJet: all easyJet Holidays packages up to and including Tuesday 25 July are cancelled, with full refunds offered. Flight only passengers booked to travel to or from Rhodes until 29 July can transfer for free to another date or can request a flight voucher by calling easyJet Customer Services on 0330 551 5151.
  • Jet2: all flights and holidays that are due to depart to Rhodes up to and including 30 July have been cancelled, with full refunds offered.
  • Ryanair: “Flights to/from Rhodes Airport are currently operating as normal and unaffected by the forest fires. Please check your Ryanair app where you will be notified of any changes to your Ryanair flight.”
  • Thomas Cook: the online travel agent is allowing customers due to depart to holidays in the affected areas in Kiotari and Lardos up to 31 July to cancel their holidays for a full refund. Customers booked to travel to elsewhere in Rhodes on Monday are being offered full refunds. “For customers who are traveling on Tuesday we will be in touch with them before 6am on Monday morning to discuss their options,” a spokesperson said.
  • Tui: “We have canceled all outbound flights to Rhodes up to and including Tuesday 25 July. Passengers due to travel on Wednesday will be offered a fee free amend to another holiday or the option to cancel for a full refund.”

I am booked to travel to Rhodes in August. Can I cancel?

Not at this stage. Depending on events over the next few days, travel firms will make decisions on their plans for the peak summer month.

What does the Foreign Office say?

“We have felt a Rapid Deployment Team in Rhodes. The team is supporting British nationals at the airport by assisting with emergency travel documents and liaising with travel operators and Greek authorities.

“If you are a British national affected by wildfires in Rhodes near Kiotari, Pefkoi, Lindos and the surrounding area, please follow the guidance from the emergency services. Call the Greek Emergency Services on 112 if you are in immediate danger.

“If you are planning to travel to Rhodes, please check with your travel operator or hotel prior to travel that the area you plan to visit is not impacted by the current wildfires.”

British nationals in Rhodes impacted by the wildfire can call the Foreign Office emergency helpline number, +44 20 7008 5000, for consular assistance.