Greece wildfires: What’s the advice for travellers?
As Greece declares a state of emergency, here’s what holidaymakers need to know.
Wildfires have swept through seaside resorts near Athens, destroying homes and forests, killing at least 50 people.
Tourists – and residents – have been fleeing to the coastline to escape the flames and smoke of the two largest fires, one 20 miles north-east of Athens near Rafina, the other 30 miles west of the capital in Kineta.
Gale-force winds that frequently changed direction helped fan the fires in the hot, dry summer conditions, and the flames spread quickly.
Hundreds have been evacuated by sea and some were rescued from the water after swimming out to escape the flames. Greece has sought international help through the European Union for extra aircrafts and firefighters.
It’s the deadliest fire to hit Greece in more than a decade. In 2007, more than 60 people were killed when fires swept across the Peloponnese region. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has declared a three-day national mourning period.
What should travellers do?
A spokesperson for ABTA, the leading association of travel agents and tour operators, said: “This area isn’t a main destination for UK tourists. People on holiday in the region are advised to monitor news reports and follow any advice or instructions issued by the local authorities, their travel company or their accommodation providers.
“Anyone due to travel imminently to the areas affected should speak to their travel company or accommodation provider.
“ABTA is in contact with the authorities in Greece and we are monitoring the situation.”
The Foreign Office have updated their travel advice to Greece, saying the wildfires “have been confined to limited areas, but within those the impact has been high, with significant loss of life.
“Most visits to Greece, including to Athens, are unaffected. You should keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of the Greek authorities in affected areas.”
Are flights affected?
Greece is on fire fam pic.twitter.com/gpxBV5yCqt— Zo (@g0rilla_zo) July 24, 2018
Ryanair, easyJet and British Airways confirmed their flights are running as usual to Athens.
A spokesperson for easyJet said: “Flights to and from Athens are currently operating as normal, however, we continue to closely monitor the situation and the advice provided by the relevant authorities.”
But if you would prefer to change your travel plans, you do have options.
“Any customers who are booked to travel to Athens in the next seven days can transfer for free to another date or another route within the next three months, or alternatively can request a flight voucher to the value of their unused flights.
“Passengers wishing to do so are advised to call the easyJet Customer Services team on 0330 365 5000.”
A spokesperson for British Airways said: “Following the tragic wildfires in Greece, we are offering a flexible rebooking policy for customers wanting to return home early.
“Our flights are operating as planned, however we would encourage any customers with concerns about their bookings to contact us or their travel agent.”
Athens Airport confirmed on Twitter that, although there had been some cancellations, diversions and delays on Monday, flights are now running as normal.
Ηι! We had yesterday some cancellations, diversions, and delays, due to the strong wings, not due to the grave Ath fires. As of 21.00, airport operated normally, today also all flights normally.— Athens Airport (@ATH_airport) July 24, 2018
Hello Emilia. All operations & flights run normally.— Athens Airport (@ATH_airport) July 24, 2018