PARIS (AP) — Storms, strikes, computer failures — you can now add “your plane has been seized by the government” to the list of things that can delay your flight.
In France, 149 passengers were preparing to take off for London late Thursday when French authorities ordered their Ryanair Boeing 737 impounded.
The budget carrier owed money and it was “regrettable that the state was forced” to evacuate the plane, the civil aviation authority said.
The passengers had gone through passport control and security and were about to walk on the tarmac to board the plane when airport authorities told them to turn around, passenger Boris Hejblum said.
Passengers were put on another flight that finally brought them to London’s Stansted airport — five hours late.
The multi-million dollar jet, meanwhile, was released only Friday after Ryanair paid a bill of 525,000 euros ($610,000).
The scene unfolded at the Bordeaux-Merignac airport in western France, where authorities say the airline was ordered to pay back funds that the European Union had declared to be illegal subsidies. Ryanair did not publicly comment on the seizure.
French aviation agency spokesman Eric Heraud said regional authorities who originally gave the subsidies had been trying since 2014 to recover the money, and sent its final legal warning in May. After six months without a response from Ryanair, it decided to act Friday.