Ryanair pays €525,000 to get plane back

Dispute over subsidies to airline sparks French to impound aircraft

Dispute resulted in 149 passengers having to disembark from an impounded plane

Dispute resulted in 149 passengers having to disembark from an impounded plane

 

Ryanair has paid €525,000 euros in subsidies back to French authorities to end a tarmac standoff that forced 149 passengers to disembark from an impounded plane.

The French civil aviation authority said it had seized the plane at Bordeaux-Merignac airport as a “last resort” after France repeatedly tried to get

Ryanair to pay back regional funds to the airline in 2008/09.

The European Commission later ruled those funds illegal, saying they gave Ryanair an unfair economic advantage. The aviation authority called it “regrettable that the state was forced” to evacuate the plane on Thursday.

It said the passengers were put on another Ryanair flight five hours later.

Ryanair did not publicly comment on the seizure. Aviation authority spokesman Eric Heraud said the airline had paid back the funds and the plane would be released.

This has been a turbulent autumn for the airline. In October, the airline warned on full-year profits in the wake of a surge in the oil price and disruption caused by strikes. While it has reached deals with several unions, it faces resistance from staff in a number of countries.

The European Commission in October opened an investigation into whether Ryanair had benefited from illegal state aid at Germany’s Frankfurt-Hahn airport, and this week Italy’s antitrust agency opened a probe against Ryanair’s new hand luggage policies.

- AP