French seize Ryanair jet just be­fore take­off

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - MONEY - By An­gela Charl­ton

— Storms, strikes, com­puter fail­ures — you can now add “your plane has been seized by the gov­ern­ment” to the list of things that can de­lay your flight.

In France, 149 pas­sen­gers were pre­par­ing to take off for Lon­don late Thurs­day when French au­thor­i­ties or­dered their Ryanair Boe­ing 737 im­pounded. The bud­get car­rier owed money and it was “re­gret­table that the state was forced” to evac­u­ate the plane, the civil avi­a­tion au­thor­ity said.

The pas­sen­gers had gone through pass­port con­trol and se­cu­rity and were about to walk on the tar­mac to board the plane when air­port au­thor­i­ties told them to turn around, pas­sen­ger Boris He­jblum said.

“The air­port staff told us there was an is­sue with the plane,” he said in an email.

No Ryanair staff mem­bers were avail­able, and the only com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the air­line was two text mes­sages say­ing sim­ply that the de­par­ture was de­layed, and a $5.75 voucher for food — “less than what a sand­wich cost at the air­port cafe,” He­jblum, 30, of France, said.

The pas­sen­gers were put on an­other flight that brought them to Lon­don's Stansted air­port — five hours late.

The jet, mean­while, was re­leased Fri­day af­ter Ryanair paid a bill of $610,000.

The scene un­folded at the Bordeaux-Merignac air­port in west­ern France, where au­thor­i­ties say the air­line was or­dered to pay back funds that the Euro­pean Union had de­clared to be il­le­gal sub­si­dies. Ryanair had no com­ment.

French avi­a­tion agency spokesman Eric Her­aud said re­gional au­thor­i­ties who orig­i­nally gave sub­si­dies to the Ir­ish-based car­rier had been try­ing since 2014 to re­cover the money, and sent its fi­nal warn­ing in May. Af­ter six months with­out a re­sponse, it de­cided to act.

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