French 'seize' Ryanair plane in Bordeaux over €525000 'debt'

Eileen GuzmanNov 10, 2018

French aviation authorities have seized a Ryanair plane bound for London, stranding almost 150 passengers.

Ryanair had been ordered for some time to pay back funds that the European Union had declared to be illegal subsidies.

The French civil aviation authority seized the aircraft on Thursday at Bordeaux airport ahead of its planned flight to London Stansted, the latest episode in a string of troubles for the low-priced Irish carrier.

Aviation authority spokesman Eric Heraud said the airline had paid back the funds and the plane would be released. It said the passengers were put on another Ryanair flight five hours later.

The airline has now entered negotiations with the department over how to repay more than €500,000 at the centre of the dispute, regional newspaper Charente Libre reports.

Claiming that Ryanair owed them 525,000 euros ($595,000) in subsidies wrongfully paid out to the airline, the authorities sent in a bailiff under police protection on Thursday to seize the plane on the tarmac of Bordeaux airport as it was readying to take off for London Stansted.

It was not immediately clear how much money French authorities were trying to reclaim from Ryanair.

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

The authority said the plane "will remain immobilised until the sum is paid".

MailOnline has requested a comment from Ryanair.

The airline uses Boeing 737-800 planes, which cost £78.4 million each when new.

The EU also ordered authorities to recoup money from Transavia over benefits they had received at two other French regional airports.

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

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