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Ryanair plane impounded in France in row over illegal subsidies

Ryanair A Ryanair plane was seized by France Credit Ralph Orlowski REUTERS
Ginger Lawrence | 09 November, 2018, 21:41

French aviation authorities have seized a Ryanair plane bound for London, stranding almost 150 passengers. Some 149 passengers on board had to wait five hours before being able to take off from the Bordeaux-Merignac airport in another Ryanair aircraft.

A bailiff seized a Ryanair aeroplane at Bordeaux airport, as part of a legal dispute between the airline and the conseil départemental of the Charente. The European Commission declared in 2014 that the payments were in breach of EU competition laws as they amounted to state aid.

The department had the support of France's civil aviation authority, the direction générale de l'aviation civile (DGAC), which said in the press release: "It is regrettable that the State was forced to take this measure, which caused unavoidable inconvenience for the 149 passengers of the immobilised aircraft".

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 airline owes the regional aviation authority €525,000, the Charente Libre newspaper reported. The European Comission later ruled the deal had been illegal and ordered Ryanair to pay back the cash.

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DGAC said it the plane "will remain immobilized until the sum is paid".

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

Ryanair did not respond to requests for comment.

The stoppages contributed to a 7% fall in profits to €1.2bn (£1.06bn) for the six months to 30 September.