According to The Independent, Ryanair flight 1783, a Boeing 737, was scheduled to fly from Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport in France to the city of Stansted in the United Kingdom at 6 p.m. on Thursday. Claiming that the Irish low-cost airline owed them 525,000 euros ($595,000) in subsidies wrongfully paid out to the airline, the authorities sent in a bailiff under police protection to seize the plane.
Ryanair passengers, who had already gone through passport control and security were about to pass through the tarmac to board the plane when they were asked to turn around and head back to the gate, according to UPI. The passengers were left stranded for five hours at the airport and had to take another flight to Stansted.
"This measure was taken as a last resort by the French authorities after several reminders and attempts to recuperate the money failed," the DGAC explained. The EU Commission in 2014 ruled that subsidies Ryanair received from a regional authority a decade ago had to be repaid, but the airline had not complied despite repeated warnings, it said.
The move on the plane came after Ryanair failed to respond to a final warning delivered in May, prompting the order to seize the aircraft, DGAC told AFP. French airport official Didier Villat told Sud Ouest newspaper that this was the first time a Ryanair plane had been seized in this way and he also added: "Just because we manage a little airport in Charente it doesn't mean we are not going to defend ourselves."
A statement from France's aviation authority, the DGAC read: "By this act, the French state reaffirms its desire to guarantee the conditions of fair competition between airlines and its airports," adding that the move to seize the plane was a "last resort" after several failed efforts to reclaim the debt.
Ryanair's troubles do not end here. Ministers from five European governments last week warned Ryanair that it may find itself in legal trouble if it fails to address national labor laws following a series of strikes across the continent. Adding to the airline's woes is a battle with Italian regulators who ordered the airline to stop charging passengers for carry-on bags.