Ryanair plane seized by French authorities in cash row

France's civil aviation authority said the carrier was obliged to pay back money it received as aid related to its activities at the regional airport of Angouleme between 2008 and 2009.

The 149 passengers due to get on the plane for a flight to London Stansted endured a five-hour delay before another Ryanair craft arrived to take them to their destination.

The authority did not specify the amount owed by Ryanair.

The European Commission ruled in 2014 that aid was illegal and ordered the airline to reimburse the department.

It was not immediately clear how much money French authorities were trying to reclaim from Ryanair.

The authority said the plane "will remain immobilised until the sum is paid".

"It is unfortunate that the state had to take such action, which led to the inevitable inconvenience of the 149 passengers on board", the aviation authority said.

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French airport official Didier Villat told Sud Ouest newspaper: 'To my knowledge it's the first time a Ryanair plane has been seized in this way.

French aviation authorities have seized a Ryanair plane bound for London, stranding almost 150 passengers.

The airline uses Boeing 737-800 planes, which cost £78.4 million each when new.

And last week ministers from five European governments warned Ryanair that it could face legal trouble if it ignores national labour laws after a series of strikes across the continent.

The stoppages contributed to a 7% fall in profits to €1.2bn (£1.06bn) for the six months to 30 September.

Ryanair did not publicly comment on the seizure.

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