France impounds Ryanair plane on tarmac before take-off

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French authorities have seized a Ryanair plane and forced 149 passengers to disembark because of a dispute over subsidies to the Irish airline.

The French civil aviation authority said Friday it had impounded the plane on the tarmac of the Bordeaux-Merignac airport as a “last resort.”

Ryanair did not publicly comment on the seizure.

In a statement, the aviation authority said France had repeatedly tried to get Ryanair to pay back regional funds paid to the airline in 2008-2009. The European Commission later ruled those funds illegal, saying they gave Ryanair an unfair economic advantage.

It was not immediately clear how much money French authorities were trying to reclaim from Ryanair.

The airline uses Boeing 737-800 planes, which cost $102.2 million each when new. Airlines often get deep discounts and – like a car – the value goes down as the plane ages.

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

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