London, Thanasis Gavos

More than ten flights to various cities in Britain took place on Monday from Rhodes airport as part of the operation repatriation of the British of tourists who either completed their holidays on the fire-stricken island or wanted to leave earlier.

Major airlines and tour operators Tui, Jet2 and easyJet operated eight emergency flights evacuationin addition to their scheduled flights, with aircraft that had gone on leave to Rhodes.

Tui has canceled flights and packages to Rhodes until Friday (until Sunday for the burnt resorts), Jet2 until Sunday and easyJet Holidays until Saturday.

However, on Monday a BBC reporter on board an easyJet flight from Gatwick reported that there were 37 passengers on board. After a message from the pilot that the pleasure trip to Rhodes was “terrible idea”eight of the travelers disembarked, shortly before the plane taxied.

British Airways and Ryanair continue their flights to Rhodes as normal.

According to the Times, an estimated 5,000 Britons remain in Rhodes. On Monday the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs had specified the number at 7-10 thousand.

A further 30,000 British visitors are set to arrive on the island of knights in the next two weeks, with airlines yet to decide what will happen after next weekend.

Reports say that at least easyJet has started contacting customers booked for Rhodes by August 10 “to discuss options”.

According to information, Mr Association of British Travel Agents has held at least two teleconferences to determine the number and location of British tourists in Rhodes so that there is the best possible coordination with the British and Greek authorities.

A photo posted on Twitter shows staff at the British embassy in Athens at work feverishly under Ambassador Matthew Lodge, who earlier expressed admiration and gratitude for those fighting the fires and the people of Rhodes “for embracing British tourists on the island”.

In London, the chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Alicia Cairns, accused airlines that continue to travel to Rhodes of “speculation” and called for the Foreign Office to issue a travel directive against travel to the island to make it easier for those who want to cancel their holidays to claim compensation.

But he noted that he understands that the British government does not want to deviate from the line of European countries that do not want to hurt the Greek tourism industry with recommendations against visits.

In addition, Labour’s shadow Europe minister Stephen Doughty is writing to the Foreign Office asking to know when the decision to send a delegation to Rhodes was made, amid accusations from the opposition of a delayed reaction.

It also calls for travel operators in Britain to be asked to show flexibility in the packages their customers have booked for the fire-hit areas.