Ryanair plane seized by French authorities in cash row

Ryanair

Ryanair

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

The EU Commission in 2014 ruled that subsidies Ryanair received from a regional authority had to be repaid, but the airline had not complied despite repeated warnings.

But the French government said Ryanair had only paid back half the money, so it seized the plane and demanded the balance.

The French civil aviation authority did not say how much money was involved, but regional airport officials said the sum was €525,000 (£457,000).

Just under 24 hours later, the no-frills airline relented and paid up, authorities said Friday, allowing it to reclaim its aircraft.

The passengers were put on another flight that finally brought them to London's Stansted airport - five hours late. One passenger told The Associated Press that airport authorities told them there "was an issue with the plane".

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The plane was close to take-off when a bailiff declared it seized on the tarmac and sealed the aircraft.

Ryanair's fleet is made up mostly of Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which have a list price of around $98 million each. A row over French subsidies Ryanair was paid for flights from Angouleme airport in the Charente region between 2008 and 2009 was blamed for the Boeing 737's seizure.

"We will investigate whether regional and local authorities in Germany, against the rules, gave an unfair advantage to Ryanair over its competitors", European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

And last week ministers from five European governments warned Ryanair that it could face legal trouble if it ignores national labour laws after a series of strikes across the continent.

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

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