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French prosecutors want seizure of Ryanair planes

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French prosecutors want seizure of Ryanair planes
Will France seize Ryanair's planes? Photo: Paulo Margari
12:38 CEST+02:00
Budget airline Ryanair has flown into a storm with French authorities.Prosecutors demanded on Friday the confiscation of four of its planes during a trial in the south of France over alleged breaches of French labour law.

A prosecutor pressed on Friday for low-cost Irish airline Ryanair to be fined 225,000 euros ($293,000) and for confiscation of four of its planes over alleged breaches of French
labour law.

At a trial in southern France, prosecutor Annie Battini said the maximum 225,000-euro-fine faced by Ryanair for charges of "concealing employment" was so low as to be "ridiculous".

She urged the court therefore also to confiscate four planes which the airline had based at Marignane airport, near Marseille and not far from Aix-en-Provence, from 2007 to 2011.

The trial against Ryanair opened on Thursday, after prosecutors charged the airline with several illegal practices including registering workers employed in France as Irish employees, preventing workplace councils from functioning and preventing access to unions.

The civil plaintiffs in the case, who include a pilots' union and a pensions fund, are seeking a further 9.8 million euros in damages.

The case echoes a similar hearing for low-cost carrier easyJet, which in 2010 was ordered to pay more than 1.4 million euros in damages to unions representing crew for hiring 170 employees under British contracts at a Paris airport.

The Ryanair case centres around a facility operated by the company at Marignane, where it had based four planes and 127 employees without applying French labour law or filling out tax declarations in the country.

Ryanair argues that Irish law should have been applied as it did not have a permanent activity in the area and its employees took their orders from headquarters in Dublin.

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