Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

France impounds Ryanair plane on tarmac before take-off

France impounds Ryanair plane on tarmac before take-off

A Ryanair plane sits on the tarmac at the Bordeaux-Merignac airport in southwestern France on Friday after being impounded by French authorities.

Charente airport union leader Didier Villat told SudOuest newspaper: "To my knowledge it's the first time a Ryanair plane has been seized in this way".

The French civil aviation authority stopped the aircraft setting off at Bordeaux airport on Thursday evening, from which it was due to fly to Stansted. It said the passengers were put on another Ryanair flight five hours later.

"By this action, the government reaffirms its intention to guarantee the conditions of fair competition between airlines and between airports", it said.

The standoff with French authorities will not help Ryanair, which more than most carriers, has come to symbolize budget airlines' relentless focus on the bottom line at the cost of customer service.

The European Commission has since claimed the subsidies were illegal, and ordered Ryanair to pay them all back.

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An appeal against the judgement was rejected by the tribunal administratif in the summer.

French aviation agency spokesman Eric Heraud said regional authorities who originally gave the subsidies had been trying since 2014 to recover the money, and sent its final legal warning in May.

The dispute dates back to 2008/09, officials said, when French subsidies were paid to Ryanair to provide flights from Angouleme, the capital of the Charente region, to London.

Ryanair's fleet is made up mostly of Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which have a list price of more than $90 million each.

Ryanair has been hit by a number of setbacks in recent months, with pilots and cabin crews across Europe going on strike.

Ryanair did not respond to Fortune's request for comment.

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