French government seizes Ryanair jet just before takeoff

French government seizes Ryanair jet just before takeoff”

The dispute was sparked by French subsidies paid to Ryanair to provide flights from Angouleme, the capital of the Charente region, to London between 2008 and 2009.

The passengers had gone through passport control and security and were about to walk on the tarmac to board the plane when airport authorities told them to turn around, passenger Boris Hejblum said.

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

The French civil aviation authority said Friday it had seized a Ryanair plane to get the Irish low-priced airline to repay illegal public aid, the latest in a string of troubles for the carrier.

But the French government said Ryanair had only paid back half the money, so it seized the plane and demanded the balance.

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

In reality, Ryanair's plane was seized because of overdue bills.

The French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) grounded the Boeing 737 with 149 passengers, claiming it was a "last resort".

But aviation authority spokesman Eric Heraud said Ryanair had paid back the funds and the plane would be released.

The passengers eventually took off five hours late on another Ryanair aircraft.

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

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