EXPLANATION – A Boeing 737 seized and its passengers forced to disembark on Thursday, November 8: the French authorities have obtained from the Irish airline Ryanair low cost that undertakes to repay 525,000 euros of subsidies deemed illegal.
► Why was the plane seized?
The 149 passengers of Ryanair Boeing who was supposed to take off on Thursday 8 November in the late afternoon from Bordeaux airport to London had the unpleasant surprise to see their device captured by a bailiff and members of the transport gendarmerie plane.
Passengers were able to leave with another 5-hour delay, but the Irish low-cost airline faced a dilemma: paying just over € 500,000 due to the Charente Mixed Airports Association ( Smac) or see immobilized one of its aircraft value (catalog price) of almost 100 million euros. Ryanair did not take long to make a decision.
"The seizure was revoked at 12.30 pm" this Friday, November 9th, which means that the amount requested by Ryanair " has been paid and that the company has recovered its plane "said a spokesman for the general direction of civil aircraft. A result that comes a priori to conclude a controversy dating back to 2010.
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► What were the sums due?
"In 2008, Ryanair and Smac (1) signed a contract to establish three rotations a week between Angoulême and Londonexplains Didier Villat, president of the mixed trade union. In return, as has been done elsewhere, we had to pay the company a decreasing start-up aid of over € 900,000 in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010. "
" This line was important for the Charentes, which is the fourth department in terms of British residents.Didier Villat adds that Smac has decided not to organize a regular line, preferring to try to bring the aeronautical companies onto the infrastructure.
According to the manager, Ryanair would have requested an extension of aid in the third year. Given the community's refusal, the company would simply abandon the line in 2010. "In addition, Air France had filed a complaint for unfair competition because of this aid"adds Didier Villat, adding that the European Commission, in effect, found them illegal. "Smac was convicted of having reimbursed them", He says.
Things have dragged in length, jurisdiction after jurisdiction. "When I arrived at the Smac presidency, I wanted to speed things up"says Didier Villat. In 2016, Ryanair ended up paying half the amount due, but refused to pay the remaining € 525,000 on the basis of "Violation of the contract". This second litigation is the subject of a parallel action in court between the two parties, according to Didier Villat.
The last letter of formal notice was sent to the company on May 28, said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Left unanswered, a seizure request was then filed with the court in Bordeaux. "The State reiterates with this act its desire to guarantee the conditions of fair competition between airlines and between airports", said the DGAC.
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► Is this procedure exceptional?
"As far as I know, this kind of seizure has never been done"said Didier Villat. However, in 2016, the Authority for the control of airport disturbances (Acnusa) had already had a plane immobilized in Paris-Charles de Gaulle, for non-payment of fines for violation of noise restrictions. It was a plane from Turkmenistan Airlines and, in August, an airplane belonging to the Polish company Enter Air.