France grounds Ryanair plane to force subsidy repayment

AFP  File | The French authorities stopped a Ryanair plane from taking off to put pressure on the airline

AFP File | The French authorities stopped a Ryanair plane from taking off to put pressure on the airline

The French civil aviation authority seized the aircraft on Thursday at Bordeaux airport ahead of its planned flight to London Stansted, the latest episode in a string of troubles for the low-priced Irish carrier.

The French civil aviation authority did not say how much money was involved, but regional airport officials said the sum was €525,000 (£457,000).

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

Authorities said the seizure of the plane was a final bid to recover the money after trying and failing other avenues.

France's Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGAC) said the passengers were delayed five hours but made it to their destination with a later Ryanair flight.

The aviation authority called it "regrettable that the state was forced" to evacuate the plane.

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The plane, bound for London's Stansted airport, was grounded yesterday.

'Just because we manage a little airport in Charente it doesn't mean we are not going to defend ourselves'.

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

'The plane will remain stationary until the debt is paid'.

HuffPost UK has contacted Ryanair for comment.

The stoppages contributed to a 7% fall in profits to €1.2bn (£1.06bn) for the six months to 30 September.

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