Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Ryanair plane impounded in France in row over illegal subsidies

Ryanair plane impounded in France in row over illegal subsidies

A Ryanair plane sits on the tarmac at the Bordeaux-Merignac airport in southwestern France on Friday after being impounded by French authorities.

One passenger told The Associated Press that airport authorities told them there "was an issue with the plane".

The French civil aviation authority grounded the Boeing 737 on Thursday at Bordeaux airport, before it was due to fly to Stansted with 149 passengers.

Ryanair arranged another plane and customers arrived in London around five hours late. "By this act, the State reaffirms its desire to guarantee the conditions for fair competition between airlines and between airports".

The airline owes the regional authority 525,000 euros ($595,000), regional officials said.

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.

An appeal against the judgement was rejected by the tribunal administratif in the summer.

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The airline paid the bill on Friday.

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

The airline uses Boeing 737-800 planes, which cost £78.4 million each when new.

Ryanair did not respond to requests for comment.

In October, EU anti-trust authorities opened an investigation into whether Ryanair benefited from measures at a German airport that give the Irish low-priced carrier an unfair leg-up over competitors.

The stoppages contributed to a 7% fall in profits to €1.2bn (£1.06bn) for the six months to 30 September. Besides charging for seating choice and food - now standard practice on budget flights the world over - it also has travelers pay for any carry-on bag that's larger than a purse.

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