At least 149 passengers in France were preparing to take off for London late Thursday when French authorities impounded Ryanair Boeing 737 flight.
After storms, strikes, computer failures, one can now add “your plane has been seized by the government” to the list of things that can delay a flight. At least 149 passengers in France were preparing to take off for London late Thursday when French authorities impounded Ryanair Boeing 737 flight.
The passengers had undergone passport control and security and were about to walk on the tarmac to board the plane when the airport authorities told them to turn around, a passenger on the plane Boris Hejblum told the news agency Associated Press, adding the airport staff told the passengers that there was an issue with the plane.
None of the Ryanair staff members was available at the spot and the only communication from the airline was two text messages saying that the departure was delayed and issuing a 5-euro ($5.75) voucher for food, a 30-year-old Frenchman said, adding he found it strange that the police were the only ones giving them information.
French civil aviation authority later said that the budget carrier owed money and it was “regrettable that the state was forced” to evacuate the plane.
After the incident, the passengers were taken to another flight that finally brought them to London’s Stansted airport — five hours late.
Meanwhile, the multi-million dollar jet was released on Friday after Ryanair paid a bill of 525,000 euros ($610,000).
The scene unfolded at the Bordeaux-Merignac airport in France. The civil aviation authorities said that the airline was ordered to pay back funds that the European Union had declared to be illegal subsidies. Ryanair did not publicly comment on the seizure of its aircraft.
According to AP, French aviation agency spokesman Eric Heraud said that regional authorities who originally gave the subsidies had been trying since 2014 to recover the money, and sent its final legal warning in May. The authorities finally decided to act on Friday, six months after it received no response from Ryanair.
Ryanair has become Europe’s largest airline in terms of passenger count as it persistently offered some of the cheapest fares available, ensuring its planes are packed to capacity.