Ryanair to close Marseille base


Ryanair said today it is to close its Marseille base in the south of France with the loss of 200 jobs and 13 routes.

The decision comes after French prosecutors refused to drop a case against the airline over illegal working practices.

French authorities say Ryanair employees based at Marseille airport should pay income tax and social insurance in France, rather than in Ireland, as is currently the case.

Ryanair says it fully complies with the European Directive on Transport Workers which allows all workers to pay income tax and social insurance in the country they work or where their employer is resident and where they are physically paid, which in its case is Ireland.

Marseille has been the airline's Mediterranean hub since November 2006. The four Marseille-based aircraft at the airport will now be moved in January to competitor airports in Spain, Italy and Lithuania. 

However, it added it will continue to operate 10 routes to and from Marseille on aircraft and crews that are based elsewhere.

The airline's chief executive Michael O'Leary said he was "disappointed" by the decision of the French authorities to enact a case against the company.

“Sadly the loss of these four aircraft, 200 jobs and 13 routes at Marseille is the high price necessary to demonstrate that these are mobile Irish workers, which is why they are covered by the EU regulations for mobile transport workers; and not by a local French decree which Ryanair is currently appealing to the European Courts, he said.

"This ill-judged legal action has therefore cost Marseille and France jobs, foreign investment and lost visitors in circumstances where our Marseille base fully complies with EU regulations for transport workers," he added.

In 2007 Ryanair took the French government to the European Court of Justice to challenge a ruling that sought to deny pilots flying from its base in Marseille from operating under Irish contracts.