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Zante turtles hold up holiday flight

- by Dabs Banner

Baby turtles on Zante left UK holidaymakers stranded in the airport according to media reports.

Homebound Easyjet passengers disembarked from the plane after a fault was found with one of the wing flaps.

But specialist flight engineers were unable to fly in and fix the problem because of a night-time ban on flights on the island.

It meant passenger had to wait until the following day before the repairs could be carried out and they were able to fly home.

The flight approach to Zante airport lies directly over the big holiday beach at Kalamaki, also the nesting site for hundreds of endangered Mediterranean loggerhead turtles.

As turtles eggs hatch during the hours of darkness, flights over the nesting beaches are banned during the breeding season which happens to coincide with the peak holiday season of June to August.

There are reports of any passengers complaining at the alleged lack of support during the delay which started on Sunday afternoon.

Some holidaymakers claim they didn't get back to the Uk until the following Tuesday, had nowhere to stop overnight and were not kept informed of what was happening.

Conservation groups say around 500 turtles now head for Zante to build nests on the beaches. They once swam there in their thousands but the encroachment of tourism has taken its toll.

The conservation record of Greeks is very poor, particularly on Zante where turtle nesting beaches have been bulldozed to make way for hotels, beach bars and tourist sunbeds.

Despite cashing in on the turtle connection, Zante has done more than any other Greek island to drive them to extinction.

Turtle spotting boat trips are still a popular draw despite the shy creatures being hounded by tourists. Turtles arrive in Laganas Bay to queues of glass-bottomed pleasure boats circling the waters.

Camera snapping tourists appear unconcerned at the distress caused as boats that chase the turtles through the water.

Easyjet said around a quarter of passengers took alternative flights and those stranded were provided with hotel accommodation and expenses in line with European and they will also be entitled to compensation.

A spokesperson added: "We do all possible to try and minimise delays and as such planned to send a replacement aircraft. Unfortunately, due to the night curfew rule at the airport, we were unable to get the replacement aircraft into the airport."

The Greek government has been under fire for years from the European Commission for its failure to protect the turtles and their nesting sites from commercial exploitation.

Greece was condemned by the European Court for failing to protect the endangered sea turtles of Zante after household waste was dumped on a key nesting site.