Tuesday 11 December 2018

Ryanair pays €525,000 to end standoff at Bordeaux in subsidy row

Ryanair clashed with the EC
Ryanair clashed with the EC

Patrick Edwards

Ryanair has paid €525,000 in subsidies back to French authorities to end a tarmac standoff that forced 149 passengers to disembark from an impounded plane.

The French civil aviation authority said it had seized the plane at Bordeaux-Merignac airport as a "last resort", after France repeatedly tried to get Ryanair to pay back regional funds given to the airline in 2008 and 2009.

The European Commission later ruled those funds illegal, saying they gave Ryanair an unfair economic advantage.

The aviation authority called it "regrettable that the state was forced" to evacuate the plane yesterday. It said the passengers were put on another Ryanair flight five hours later.

Ryanair did not respond to queries regarding the incident.

Aviation authority spokesman Eric Heraud said the airline had paid back the funds and the plane would be released.

Last month, the European Commission said it had opened an in-depth probe to determine if measures that favoured Ryanair at Frankfurt-Hahn airport in Germany are aligned with state-aid rules.

"We will investigate whether regional and local authorities in Germany, against the rules, gave an unfair advantage to Ryanair over its competitors," EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. Under the deal, Ryanair received between 2009 and 2017 training aid and funding for a crew and pilot school and for a maintenance hall at the airport, the European Commission said.

Ryanair said it believes the Frankfurt-Hahn agreement fully complied with EU state aid rules.

Irish Independent

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