France grounds Ryanair plane to force subsidy repayment

phys.org | 11/9/2018 | Staff
loranseen (Posted by) Level 3
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French authorities said on Friday they seized a Ryanair plane, forcing 149 London-bound passengers off the aircraft, to get the Irish low-cost airline to repay illegal public aid, the latest in a string of troubles for the carrier.

Claiming that Ryanair owed them 525,000 euros ($595,000) in subsidies wrongfully paid out to the airline, the authorities sent in a bailiff under police protection on Thursday to seize the plane on the tarmac of Bordeaux airport as it was readying to take off for London Stansted.

Hours - Airline - Authorities - Friday - Aircraft

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

'Last resort'

Measure - Resort - Authorities - Reminders - Attempts

"This measure was taken as a last resort by the French authorities after several reminders and attempts to recuperate the money failed," the DGAC civil aviation body said of the seizure.

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

Move - Plane - Boeing - Thursday - Bordeaux

The move on the plane, a Boeing 737, on Thursday at Bordeaux's Merignac airport in southwestern France came after Ryanair failed to respond to a final warning delivered in May, prompting the order to seize the aircraft, DGAC told AFP.

"By this action, the government reaffirms its intention to guarantee the conditions of fair competition between airlines and between airports," DGAC said.

Passengers - Board - Plane - Hours - Bordeaux-Merignac

It was "regrettable" that the passengers on board the plane had to wait five hours before being able to take off from the Bordeaux-Merignac airport in another Ryanair aircraft, the civil aviation body added.

Ryanair's fleet is made up mostly of Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which have a list price of around $98 million each.

Stinginess

'Such stinginess'

Ryanair did not respond to AFP's requests for comment on Friday.

President - Airport - Authority - Didier - Villat

But the president of the French regional airport authority, Didier Villat, said...
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