French authorities ground Ryanair flight over subsidies row

Published on : Saturday, November 10, 2018

French authorities ground a Ryanair airplane Thursday as a result of a long-running row
over subsidies, delaying passengers by up to five hours.


At Bordeaux airport the French civil aviation authority seized a Ryanair Boeing 737
jet, minutes before it was due to take off for London Stansted with 149 passengers
on board.


Passengers were subsequently forced to disembark and board a later flight to London.


French authorities described the action as "unfortunate," and said it was taken as a”last resort.”


“It is unfortunate that the state had to take such action, which led to the inevitable
inconvenience of the 149 passengers on board the immobilized plane,” the authorities said in a statement.


“Those passengers were able to eventually reach their destination later that evening on another Ryanair plane, but with a five-hour delay.”


The dispute dates back to 2008-09, when the local government offered Ryanair
subsidies to provide flights from Angoulême airport — around two hours northeast of
Bordeaux — to London.


The subsidies — which were also paid to Transavia, a low-cost airline owned by Air
France-KLM — were later deemed illegal by the European Commission in Brussels,
and France was ordered to recover the money.


Ryanair "paid less than the additional costs linked to their presence at the airport of
Angoulême," the EC said in a statement in 2015. "The airline therefore benefited from an undue economic advantage, distorting competition in the Single Market.


“France must now recover the incompatible aid from the companies that received it
in order to restore the level playing field.”


The French civil aviation authority said Friday that Ryanair was obliged to pay the
outstanding sum, and it warned that the aircraft would "remain immobilized" until the money had been paid.


The authorities didn’t confirm the exact figure, but regional airport officials said it was
€525,000 ($595,000).


In total, Ryanair was ordered in 2014 to pay back close to €10 million of French state
aid, which was granted to help improve services in three regional airports.


The Irish airline was ordered to return €6.4 million of aid provided to develop Nîmes
airport, €2.4 million for Pau-Pyrénées airport, and €868,000 for Angoulême airport.



There was no official statement from Ryanair so far.


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