French authorities seize Ryanair plane over unpaid bill
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.