Ryanair anger after French police raid offices

Ryanair lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission on Friday, a day after French police raided its offices in Marseille as part of a new probe into alleged breaches of French labour laws. Last year a French court ordered Ryanair to pay €9 million in damages.

Ryanair anger after French police raid offices
Ryanair anger after new raid on its offices in France. Photo: Paulo Margari/Flickr

Ryanair chiefs are furious over a raid by French gendarmes at his offices at the Marseille-Provence airport and Thursday.

The company claims gendarmes prevented crew members from getting access to “weather information, passenger updates and flight information”.

The company has filed formal complaints with the European Commission, the Irish government in Dublin as well as the French embassy in Dublin, slamming the action as an “unjust intrusion”.

“It is unacceptable that a European airline that conforms perfectly with European legislation surrounding employment legislation is being unfairly and illegally interfered with by magistrates and the local Gendarmerie in Marseille,” a statement from the airline said.

The company also accused the French government of double standards.

“Air France and the French government would not accept this treatment of its facilities at London Heathrow or other European airports where Air France overnights aircraft and crews, who continue to pay their taxes in France because they are employed on French contracts and are flying on French-registered aircraft,” Ryanair’s statement read.

The French investigation into Ryanair is similar to the one which saw the firm ordered to pay €9 million damages in October 2013.

In that instance a French court ruled that Ryanair had illegally registered staff based at Marseille airport in Ireland in order to save money on payroll and other taxes.

The Ryanair case centred 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.

“Ryanair crews were correctly working under Irish contracts of employment and paying Irish social insurance in accordance with the applicable European employment and social security laws,” the company said at he time.

The Irish airline appealed the verdict.

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Ryanair demands that Air France give up French airport slots in exchange for state aid

Budget airline Ryanair urged on Wednesday that Air France be forced to give up lucrative French airport slots if it receives more state aid.

Ryanair demands that Air France give up French airport slots in exchange for state aid
Could Air France be forced to give up airport slots if it accepts more aid from the French state? Photo: AFP

Paris is in talks with European Union officials on the delicate issue of state aid to the French flagship carrier, which has already received substantial help from the government.

“Should yet another enormous and illegal state aid bailout occur, then effective remedies must be applied to ensure fair competition in the French market and to protect the interests of the French consumer / visitor,” a Ryanair statement said.

The low-cost airline is based in Ireland and regularly underscores the amount of money being allocated to keep struggling rivals in the air.

In exchange for more aid, Air France must be prepared to give up “a substantial number of its take-off and landing slots at key French airports including Paris Charles De Gaulle, Paris Orly and Lyon,” Ryanair argued.

French officials and the European Commission are currently discussing the terms of a further recapitalisation of the Air France-KLM group, which has suffered from the Covid-19 crisis.

EU officials have already indicated that in exchange for their approval, Air France should give up coveted slots at Paris' Orly airport, which is essentially saturated now.

Air France on the other hand has indicated that such a move posed a serious threat because it was counting on Orly operations to help it rebound from the crisis.

French officials want to avoid putting Air France, which was struggling even before the pandemic, at a competitive disadvantage.

Ryanair urged EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager to “stand firm in her discussions with the French government.

“Either Air France gets no state aid or proper remedies should be put in place to ensure a fair and level playing field for all airlines,” it insisted.