France Seizes Boeing 737, Stops Passengers, Threatens to Auction the Plane

Last Thursday a Ryanair Boeing 737 was preparing to depart Bordeaux, France for London Stansted airport when French authorities stopped the aircraft, prevents passengers from boarding, and seized the jet.

The passengers had gone through passport control and security and were about to walk on the tarmac to board the plane when airport authorities told them to turn around…

No Ryanair staff members were available, and the only communication from the airline was two text messages saying simply that the departure was delayed, and a 5-euro ($5.75) voucher for food — “less than what a sandwich cost at the airport café,”

The French government offered Ryanair subsidies. Those subsidies were declared illegal by the European Union. So France was trying to get its money back — about US$610,000 in all.

I’m of mixed mind here,

  • France offered the subsidies illegal. Ryanair complied with its obligations. And France gets its money back? Really? It seems like the better solution would be to fine France for acting illegally, not to punish a company taking a deal in good faith.

  • The funds have essentially been ‘in collections’ since 2014. Ryanair was served a final warning. They ignored it. Absurd as I find it, that’s the law, and Ryanair shouldn’t ignore it. Besides it’s really not that much money in the scheme of things, they probably saved this much not refilling soap in their lavatories.

  • It’s pretty absurd to subsidies Ryanair, which has the highest operating margin currently of any airline in the world.

  • Now the French government knows how Ryanair passengers feel trying to get compensation for long delays and cancellations.


Copyright: trevorbenbrook / 123RF Stock Photo

Passengers were moved onto another flight and departed five hours late. Ryanair paid up right away and got its 737 back the next day.

(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Gary, when I book a points + cash award with Hyatt do they charge me the cash portion immediately or at check in?

  2. When I think of good faith, Ryanair immediately springs to mind.

    On a separate note, your spelling seems off today. New transcription software?

  3. Honestly your grammar is awful and detracts from some of the points you make. You write
    “It’s pretty absurd to subsidies Ryanair, which has the highest operating margin currently of any airline in the world.”

    Do you mean subsidize? That’s the verb. Subsidies is a noun, a plural noun of the word subsidy. Doesn’t make sense in this context.
    Theee are numerous other issues here. Seriously, if you want to be taken seriously, spend 2 minutes to do a quick spelling / grammar check. Otherwise this is just unintelligible drivel.

  4. Gary, the European Commission requires recovery from the beneficiary of state aid deemed illegal. The European Commission seeks to protect competition, not to punish member states offering illegal aid. Repayment of state aid deprives the recipient of the competition-distorting benefits and sends a signal to those companies that would accept state aid–which the European Commission hates in any form, illegal or not–that they might have to repay it.

  5. Another big blunder from O’Leary.
    He obviously think he is above the law.
    For those, like O’Leary, that don’t understand how the legal process works in France, once a judgement has been obtained, a government officer (equivalent of a sheriff in US) called a “huissier” is hired to enforce the judgement (eviction, monetary judgement or other).
    This officer has power to enter any premises without warrant where he suspects the defendant has assets to seize and auction them.
    It is not uncommon to see big jets being seized and auctioned out for failure to pay taxes or fuel bills.

  6. Drunk blog posts are hard to read but funny.

    “when French authorities stopped the aircraft, prevents passengers from boarding, …”

    “France offered the subsidies illegal.”

    “It’s pretty absurd to subsidies Ryanair,”

  7. “The French government offered Ryanair subsidies”
    No Gary: it is not the “The French government” but the local government of the “départements” always. So not in the hands of Macron. In this case it was the Charente Maritime one.

    “It’s pretty absurd to subsidies Ryanair, which has the highest operating margin currently of any airline in the world.”
    Oh yeah!!! Not because of their “flying passenger’ business but because of their fake marketing fees Ryanair ask the local authorities to pay such as the Charente Maritime département of France.
    But now the départements have understood to stop accepting paying Ryanair to get them to fly to their area because it costs more than it brings to them. And it is always tax payer’s money!

    So yes, some of your US readers have asked why the US does not have a Ryanair airline. The answer is simple: pay Ryanair US$610,000 (again tax payer’s money) and Ryanair is happy to come!
    Of course Ryanair will ask also not to pay gate utilisation and not to pay ground staff. All of that has to be paid by the airport. Example: the so-called (by Ryanair) “Paris” Beauvais airport which is not in the Parisian region. Ryanair pays only the kerosene.

    Have you notice the real Paris airports (CDG/ORY) do not have any single Ryanair flight?
    And never had.
    It is because the airport company refuses any proposal of costs being paid directly by it and not by Ryanair, and of course the local authorities in the Parisian region will not subsidy Ryanair.

  8. @Gary: “It’s pretty absurd to subsidies Ryanair, which has the highest operating margin currently of any airline in the world.”

    Not if you are a rundown Belgian town that pays to get 250,000 holidaymakers there each year.

  9. @Jason: “Theee are numerous other issues here.”

    Seriously, if you want to be taken seriously, spend 2 minutes to do a quick spelling / grammar check. Otherwise this is just unintelligible drivel.

    Mea Culpa?

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