Aviation authorities in France seized a plane, forcing its passengers to disembark, until Ryanair paid €525,000.
In a tarmac standoff that forced 149 passengers to leave an impounded plane, Ryanair has been forced to pay €525,000 in subsidies back to French authorities.
France’s civil aviation authority said it seized the plane at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport at the end of last week as a “last resort” after it had repeatedly failed to get the airline to pay back regional funds given to the airline ten years ago.
The European Commission has ruled that these funds were illegal, giving Ryanair an unfair economic advantage at the time.
The commission ruled that about €1 million of subsidies paid to Ryanair in return for it providing flights to London in 2008 and 2009 were illegal.
The civil aviation authority said it was “regrettable that the state was forced” to evacuate the plane. The passengers were put on another Ryanair flight to the London Stansted destination several hours later.
Ryanair has not publicly commented on the temporary seizure of its plane.
At a tense time of high oil prices and strikes – although deals with some unions have been reached – Ryanair faces another investigation opened by the European Commission as to whether it benefited from illegal state aid at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport in Germany.
In addition, Italy’s antitrust agency has just opened an investigation into Ryanair’s controversial new hand baggage rules.