Update: France frees Ryanair jet after tarmac standoff over subsidy

Update: 3.14pm - Ryanair has paid 525,000 euros (£457,000) in subsidies back to French authorities to end a tarmac standoff that forced 149 passengers to disembark from an impounded plane.

The French civil aviation authority said it had seized the plane at Bordeaux-Merignac airport as a “last resort” after France repeatedly tried to get Ryanair to pay back regional funds to the airline in 2008/09.

The European Commission later ruled those funds illegal, saying they gave Ryanair an unfair economic advantage.

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

Ryanair did not publicly comment on the seizure.

Aviation authority spokesman Eric Heraud said the airline had paid back the funds and the plane would be released.

Earlier: France impounds Ryanair plane on tarmac before take-off

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 it had impounded the plane on the tarmac of Bordeaux-Merignac airport on Thursday 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 handed to the airline in 2008-2009.

The European Commission later ruled those funds illegal, saying they gave Ryanair an unfair economic advantage.

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

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 dollars (£78.4 million) each when new.

Airlines often get deep discounts and, like a car, the value goes down as the plane ages.

- Press Association

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