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Aer Lingus and Ryanair planes seen grounded at Dublin Airport. Alamy Stock Photo
Greek flights

Taoiseach calls on airlines to be generous with wildfire-related compensation

Around 2,000 Irish holiday makers could be on the Greek islands of Corfu and Rhodes.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said airlines should “err on the side of fairness and generosity” when it comes to wildfire related compensation for impacted holidaymakers. 

He also said airlines should “put safety first” when it comes to flying to countries impacted by wildfires – but he refused to say whether flights should be halted to Greece. 

Wildfires continue to rage on several popular Greek tourist islands, where the country’s largest-ever wildfire evacuation has taken place.

Varadkar said he has been in touch with colleagues in Greece and other countries “to pass on our support and our solidarity.”

Over the weekend, 19,000 people were moved in buses and boats out of the path of a fire in south Rhodes while similar problems have also affected other Greek islands including Evia and Corfu.

Despite this, Ryanair and Aer Lingus are continuing to operate flights to the Greek islands.

TUI has cancelled all outbound flights to Rhodes from the UK and Ireland until Saturday and will refund all affected passengers.

Paul Hackett, the president of the Irish Travel Agents Association said around 2,000 Irish holiday makers could be in the Greek islands of Corfu and Rhodes.

Hackett has said it is important that airlines continue to operate flights, especially outbound ones.

Commenting on the matter yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:

“The EU mechanism has been triggered where other EU countries have helped countries that are affected. We haven’t been part of that yet, but we can be if needed, and it’s a very useful mechanism to have.

“I really think it is important that travel operators put safety first. They’re going to have to make a decision based on the different circumstances in the different resorts, in the different islands.

“But I really think they have to put the safety of their customers and holiday makers first and also make sure that they err on the side of fairness and generosity when it comes to any compensation arrangements. 

“I think that’s really important too. If there’s any doubt about what the terms and conditions say I think they should err on the side of refunds,” he added.

Varadkar said some people may feel like they are being “unduly evacuated” but he noted that evacuations in Greece are now commenced “much earlier” as a result of the fires that happened outside of Athens in 2018 when 102 were killed.

“I think that’s probably prevented deaths and injuries and that might make some people feel like they’re being evacuated unduly or unnecessarily but I really think you have to put safety first in these scenarios.”

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