Ryanair plane impounded by French officials moments before take-off in Bordeaux
More than 140 London-bound passengers were forced to get off a Ryanair plane when French authorities seized it over outstanding repayments.
French authorities said Ryanair owed them €525,000 (£458,000) in subsidies wrongfully paid out to the airline.
A bailiff was escorted by police to seize the plane on the tarmac of Bordeaux airport as it was readying to take off for London Stansted.
Some 149 passengers had to disembark the Boeing 737 at Bordeaux’s Merignac airport in southwestern France and wait five hours before resuming their journey.
Ryanair paid the outstanding debt within 24 hours and was able to reclaim the aircraft.
The president of the French regional airport authority, Didier Villat, said Ryanair had tried to haggle over the price and accused the carrier of “stinginess”.
“They owed us €525,585.05 and they paid €524,907.80, which is the sum fixed on September 15,” Mr Villat said.
He added that the figure did not take account of accrued interest since that date.
“Such stinginess, but we won’t take the matter any further,” he said.
“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.
In 2014, the EU Commission ruled that subsidies Ryanair received from a regional authority a decade ago had to be repaid.
DGAC said the Irish low-cost airline had not complied despite repeated warnings – including a final warning in May.
It was “regrettable” that the passengers on board the plane were delayed, the civil aviation body added.
Ryanair have not publicly commented on the matter.
Ryanair has had a string of troubles in recent months, including issues over their sole use of Irish legislation in employment contracts.
In July, strikes by cockpit and cabin crew disrupted 600 flights in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, affecting 100,000 travellers.
Ryanair is also fighting an order to suspend a charge for carry-on bags in Italy.
In the Netherlands, it is also embroiled in a row over shutting down its Eindhoven base for winter.