Passengers aboard a plane bound for London this week received orders to evacuate from the French authorities after it was revealed that the carrier owed a significant amount of money from 2014.
Ryanair's Boa 737 was seized and all 149 passengers said they would turn around and return to the Bordeaux-Merignac airport in western France.
Travelers were left out of the loop for most of the ordeal, with only two text messages saying that the departure was delayed and that they would receive vouchers worth about $ 6 for food. One passenger told the Associated Press that airport authorities said that "there was a problem with the plane".
In fact, Ryanair's plane was seized due to overdue invoices.
Ryanair had long been ordered to repay funds that the European Union had declared to be illegal subsidies.
French aviation spokesman Eric Heraud said regional authorities who originally granted the carrier's subsidies had attempted to recover the money from 2014. A final legal warning was sent in May, but after six months without a response from Ryanair, it was time for action.
The aircraft was only released after Ryanair paid a bill of $ 610,000.
The budget airliner is known in Europe for its cheap air tickets, made with the help of add-on tariffs including food and hand luggage larger than a purse.
The passengers on Thursday's flight were put on another plane, which eventually took them to London Stansted airport – five hours late.
The Associated Press contributes to this relationship.