French au­thor­i­ties seize Ryanair plane over un­paid bill

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Rupert Neate

Ryanair was yes­ter­day forced to pay €525,000 (£455,000) to the French gov­ern­ment to re­lease one of its planes af­ter it was im­pounded at Bordeaux air­port in a decade-long le­gal bat­tle over il­le­gal sub­si­dies.

French of­fi­cials seized the air­craft on Thurs­day ahead of a planned flight to Lon­don Stansted, and forced 149 pas­sen­gers to dis­em­bark.

The French civil avi­a­tion au­thor­ity said it was “re­gret­table that the state was forced” to seize the plane, but said the air­line had ig­nored de­mands to re­pay sub­si­dies a re­gional gov­ern­ment handed to the air­line in 2008-9.

The Eu­ro­pean com­mis­sion ruled that €1m of sub­si­dies paid to Ryanair in re­turn for it pro­vid­ing flights from An­goulême to Lon­don be­tween 2008 and 2009 were il­le­gal. Ryanair was or­dered to re­pay the money, which the com­mis­sion said gave the air­line an un­fair ad­van­tage. But the French gov­ern­ment said only half was re­paid, so it seized the plane and de­manded the bal­ance. Ryanair paid up yes­ter­day.

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