French authorities seize Ryanair plane moments before take-off

The plane was seized by bailiffs in a row over wrongfully paid subsidies

French authorities seize Ryanair plane moments before take-off

File photo of a Ryanair plane at Dublin Airport | Image: Eamonn Farrell/

More than 140 passengers were forced to disembark a Ryanair plane – after French authorities swooped in to seize it over an unpaid debt.

Police escorted a bailiff on to the tarmac to seize the plane moments before it took off from Bordeaux-Mérignac airport yesterday.

The 149 passengers on board had to get off the plane and wait five hours before continuing on their journey to London.

Ryanair owed French authorities €525,000 after the European Commission ruled that it must repay subsidies it wrongfully received from the regional authority a decade ago.

The EC made the ruling in 2014 – however, the airline had yet to pay the debt.

After the plane was impounded, the money was paid within 24 hours.

Dider Villat, president of the French regional airport authority said the airline had attempted haggle over the price.

"They owed us €525,585.05 and they paid €524,907.80 - which is the sum fixed on September 15th," he said.

He confirmed that the payment did not take account of accrued interest since that date.

"Such stinginess, but we won't take the matter any further," he said.

The DGAC civil aviation authority said: "This measure was taken as a last resort by the French authorities after several reminders and attempts to recuperate the money failed.”

It said the airline had failed to pay the money despite repeated warnings.

It said was "regrettable" that the passengers were delayed.

Ryanair has been contacted for comment.