French police turn back private jet from London as passengers tried to holiday in Cannes

France is on a pretty strict coronavirus lockdown - but that message seemed not to have filtered through to the group who tried to fly by private jet for a holiday in Cannes.

French police turn back private jet from London as passengers tried to holiday in Cannes
The group intended to holiday in Cannes. Photo: AFP

Local police met the jet, which had flown from London, at Marseille airport and refused entry to the 10 people on board.

All non-essential travel within France has been banned since March 17th and from April 6th anyone entering France needs to have an international travel certificate establishing that their journey is essential.

The group of seven men aged between 40 and 50 years old and three women aged between 23 and 25 years old were on board a private jet charted in London by a Croatian man claiming to work in the field of finance and real estate.

“They were coming for a holiday in Cannes and three helicopters were waiting for them on the tarmac,” the head of the border police service of Marignane (Bouches-du-Rhône) told local media.

“But we notified them that they were not allowed to enter the national territory and they left four hours later.”

A source close to the police told BFMTV that “they tried to make use of their connections, they made a few phone calls” before eventually returning to London on the jet, apart from one passenger who took a different private jet to Germany.

The group had arranged for three helicopters to collect them from the airport, the helicopters were also turned back and the pilots fined for non-essential travel.

The plane was halted on Saturday, but the incident was publicised by French police on Thursday, along with a warning that they will be paying particular attention to private jets in the coming days.

Anyone entering French territory now needs an attestation de déplacement internationale and people travelling with commercial carriers may be asked to present their certificate when boarding, as well as at the French border.

French citizens and their children are allowed back into the country, but foreigners are only allowed in under certain circumstances.

These are

  • People who have their primary residence in France. This does NOT include second home owners. Third country nationals will need to present a visa or residency card while EU nationals (which for this purpose still includes British people) do not need any proof of residency status.
  • People who have their permanent residency in another European country and are travelling through France to get home
  • Healthcare workers engaged in coronavirus-related care
  • Commercial good carriers such as lorry drivers and flight or cargo crews
  • Diplomatic staff
  • Cross-border workers. So for example if you live in France but work in Switzerland you will still be able to travel back and forth.

Both French and British authorities have already made it clear that travel to second homes in France does not count as 'essential travel' under the lockdown rules.

There will be extra police checks and roadblocks this weekend as French people are told not to travel to see friends and relatives over the Easter weekend.

READ ALSO How to have a traditional French Easter during lockdown


Member comments

  1. I wouldn’t know, but looking at the ages of the men and the ages of the women; their behaviour and selfish disregard of rules aimed at mitigating a human crisis it would seem to me to be a load of putocrats or criminals and their bimbos. I hope this has cost them plenty of money. Glad that the pilots got fined, and the passengers should have been fined as well.

  2. As both Boggy and Nick-nack (above) say.

    Plus; I hope the UK police arrested them, all, on return for endangering the lives of others; wasting police resources; and being arrogant criminals whilst flying under a (no doubt bogus) flag of convenience.

    Whilst I no longer care one jot about ‘little England’ as a state; I do care passionately about the desperate situation the abandoned people find themselves in.

    Where the hell is the supposed Home Secretary when she’s needed?

  3. “A source close to the police told BFMTV that they tried to make use of their connections, they made a few phone calls”
    I also trust that their connections are checked into as well as they clearly thought their “connections” had the power to override regulations and owed them something.

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French police bust cross-Channel people-smuggling ring

French police have busted a major people-smuggling ring that has been sending migrants to Britain in dinghies, with more than a dozen boats and 700 life jackets seized in a raid, French authorities said Thursday.

French police bust cross-Channel people-smuggling ring

The ring was run by Iraqi Kurdish migrants and had a logistics hub in Lille, a northern French city about 100 kilmetres (60 miles) from the northern Channel beaches around Calais that are used for crossings.

Three Iraqi men have been charged, along with three French suspects after their arrest on Monday.

Police discovered “a real factory supplying nautical equipment” in Lille, the head of French anti-migration agency Ocriest, Xavier Delrieu, told AFP.

In what was their biggest ever seizure of equipment, they found 13 inflatable boats, 14 outboard engines, 700 life jackets, 100 pumps and 700 litres of fuel, Delrieu said.

The group is suspected of having organised 80 Channel crossings over the summer, of which 50 succeeded, with the smugglers netting around €80,000 for each one.

The arrests came due to intelligence-sharing between authorities in Belgium, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, who are all trying to crack down on migrants crossing the Channel by boat.

The original tip-off came after a border guard control discovered a group of French youths carrying inflatables from Germany into the Netherlands.

More migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK from northern France so far this year than in the whole of 2021.

So far this year, more than 30,000 people have been detected crossing the Channel to the UK, fresh government figures showed Thursday. On Wednesday alone, the authorities detected another 667 people.

Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, has faced some criticism from other Conservatives and in right-wing media outlets for not pressing for more French action against the crossings when she met President Emmanuel Macron in New York on Tuesday.

Downing Street said the issue did not come up at their talks on the margins of the UN General Assembly, which instead focused on common ground including Ukraine and energy security.

The crossings are among a host of issues that have badly strained Franco-British relations in recent years.