France frees Ryanair jet after tarmac standoff over subsidy

Ryanair has a plane SEIZED by French authorities to force the airline to repay illegal public aid

"It is unfortunate that the state had to take such action, which led to the inevitable inconvenience of the 149 passengers onboard the immobilised plane", the French civil aviation authority said.

The European Commission later ruled around £873,000 (€1million) in subsidies paid to Ryanair were illegal and ordered the Irish carrier to repay all the money.

The aviation authority said France had repeatedly tried to get Ryanair to pay back the funds, which were handed to the airline to provide flights from Angouleme, the capital of the Charente region.

Ryanair was reportedly paid French subsidies that were later deemed to be illegal.

Passengers who were supposed to board the grounded flight were put on another plane that left five hours later.

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

Authorities said the seizure of the plane was a final bid to recover the money after trying and failing other avenues. One passenger told The Associated Press that airport authorities told them there "was an issue with the plane".

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

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

"We will investigate whether regional and local authorities in Germany, against the rules, gave an unfair advantage to Ryanair over its competitors", European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

Ryanair has been hit by a number of setbacks in recent months, with pilots and cabin crews across Europe going on strike.

The pan-European stoppages prompted the airline to cut its profit forecast, but it still expects to make profits after tax of 1.10-1.20 billion euros in its current financial year.

The Local has approached Ryanair for comment.

Ryanair is also fighting an order by Italian regulators to suspend a charge for carry-on bags.

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