British Airways has suggested to Travelmole that politically unstable Tunisia was a safe destination to fly customers to on Friday, despite a revolution taking over the streets and snipers’ bullets being fired across the capital Tunis.
A spokesman for the airline said British Airways “would not operate a service unless we were confident that it was safe to do so”.
The Foreign Office warned that Brits should leave the country on Friday but BA still flew people into the destination.
And hundreds will not be able to return until at least Wednesday when the next scheduled service is due to fly home.
Tour operators Thomson and TUI, meanwhile, have successfully repatriated all their customers that wished to return home, laying on emergency flights. Saga Holidays also hired a jet to bring back its 116 customers Sunday lunchtime. The jet also transported 80 Thomson tourists.
Some 3000 are thought to have made a hasty retreat from the country over the last few days.
British Airways today issued a statement which said: “We are monitoring the situation in Tunisia carefully. We continue to operate flights to and from Tunis to help as many of our customers as possible. We would not operate a service unless we were confident that it was safe to do so.
Although, in a concession to the chaos unfolding across Tunisia, it added: “Customers who are booked to travel to or from Tunis in the next 72 hours can rebook to a different date or to an alternative destination.”
It is estimated that there are still around 1500 Brits left in Tunisia who face gun battles and armed angry mobs. The country’s president Zine Ben Ali has fled and different factions are now warring over who will fill the vacuum.
It is now thought around 100 people have been killed including hidden snipers loyal to the president.
Meanwhile, Thomas Cook group chief executive officer Manny Fontenla-Novoa said: “At times like this, the benefits of booking a package holiday come into their own. As soon as we were made aware of the FCO changing its travel advice on Thursday night, we worked around the clock to put in place our rescue programme and we are happy to confirm the speedy return of six of our rescue flights, which have landed back safely in the UK.”
Thomas Cook cancelled its Tunisia flight yesterday, offering custmers the chance to book elsewhere or receive a refund. It says it is reviewing the situation regarding its next flight out to Tunisia which is scheduled for Wednesday and will contact customers shortly.
The opereator added it would also reimburse customers who have cut their holiday short.