An offer from Sunvil Holidays to transport up to 200 refugees from Greece to the UK looks to have been made in vain after the government’s decision to take migrants only from camps in Syria, Turkey and Jordan.
Sunvil Group chairman Noel Josephides expressed disappointment his offer was unlikely to be taken up following the prime minister’s pledge this week to take 20,000 people from refugee camps by 2020.
The operator had offered spare capacity on its Germania flights from the island of Samos – where thousands of refugees have landed after fleeing Syria – until the end of the season in mid-October to bring refugees to the UK.
Josephides said: “I am very disappointed. I am all for taking as many as possible; it [20,000] is such a minuscule proportion of the population. The UK approach is not like the German one. Why do these poor people have to suffer?
“We are quite prepared to give free seats on our flights from Samos to Gatwick between now and the end of the season as we’ll have around 200 empty seats. The Home Office has thanked us and said they will let us know, but I don’t think they will now take it up.”
Sunvil has been donating clothes given by holidaymakers to refugees via its holiday reps on the islands of Tilos and Samos for the past 18 months.
Yesterday prime minister David Cameron was criticised in parliament by Labour acting leader Harriet Harman for the government’s decision to only take in migrants from refugee camps bordering Syria saying the many thousands who have made the perilous journey Greece were also in need.
Other travel companies are also helping those affected by the crisis.
Thomas Cook has offered to carry charitable donations from holidaymakers for free on flights to specified destinations, including Kos, provided customers pre-book any additional luggage.
Christoph Debus, the operator’s chief airlines and hotels officer, said: “We understand some customers may wish to carry charitable donations for the refugees, so at all our UK departure airports we will carry it for free.”
The crisis is thought to have had little impact on Greece bookings.
Abta said it was continuing to give a “balanced perspective” to consumers, adding: “The danger is that with continuing negative coverage, customers might think twice about visiting Kos in 2016.”
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