One of Ryanair’s airplanes just got impounded.
“Impounded?” you ask. Yes, says I. Impounded. Just as your car can get towed if you don’t pay a few parking tickets, so too, it turns out, can planes.
French authorities intercepted a plane about to depart from the Bordeaux-Merignac airport, forced all the passengers off, and took the jet as collateral. The reason France took the plane is because Ryanair reportedly owes money. (See? The “parking ticket” metaphor holds up!)
Here’s the Associated Press’s explanation:
[T]he aviation authority said France had repeatedly tried to get Ryanair to pay back regional funds paid to the airline in 2008-2009. The European Commission later ruled those funds illegal, saying they gave Ryanair an unfair economic advantage.
In short, Ryanair received some money 10 years ago, which Europe decided later it shouldn’t have. Now, France is trying to get it back, and has resorted to the same tactics that small towns and cities use for individual drivers. I’m surprised France didn’t put a boot on the plane’s wheel.
And this situation is made even more perfect by the fact that it involves Ryanair. For those lucky enough to not know about the budget airline, it’s famous for selling extremely cheap tickets to European towns only a hundred kilometers away from where you actually want to go. But, of course, there’s a catch: Ryanair customers are asked to pay for every single thing on the flight–bags, carry-ons, water, etc. And the entire trip is punctuated with flight attendants hawking any sort of monetizeable item, like lottery tickets (?), for example. Flying Ryanair is like a mixture between traveling on a Greyhound Bus and shopping at the Salvation Army, but less fun.
With that, it kind of makes sense that Ryanair would be the airline to get impounded. We’ll see if this action from France will cause the company to cough up the money.
I reached out to Ryanair for comment and will update this post if I hear back.