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12 December 2018
On 8 November 2018 a Ryanair-operated Boeing 737 was arrested at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport.
While commercial aircraft are sometimes arrested in France, these are rarely operated by major airlines with Europe-wide operations. The arrest of Ryanair's aircraft thus deserves attention.
While developing its French network, Ryanair received support from various regional airports in France, including the Mixed Syndicate of Charente Airports (SMAC), a public entity which manages certain regional airports. The European Commission ultimately found this financial support to be illegal (as it breached the prohibition on state subsidies under several EU treaties) and, as a result, Ryanair had to repay the illicit subsidy to the SMAC.
When Ryanair failed to make the requested payment in full, the SMAC requested the Bordeaux court to order the arrest of a Ryanair aircraft on its arrival at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport. This request was granted and the aircraft was arrested. Ryanair paid the requested amount within hours.
The court order was based on Article L6123-2 of the Code of Transport, which provides, among other things, that the precautionary arrest of an aircraft may be requested by the minister of transport if a state subsidy has not been repaid in accordance with a European Commission decision or where the European Court of Justice has voided the same.
This provision was perfectly suited for the case at hand. However, in other circumstances (eg, if a creditor has a claim against an aircraft's owner), specific conditions must be met in order for aircraft to be arrested.
For further information on this topic please contact Matthieu de Varax or Wissam Dahmani at Odi-se Avocats by telephone (+33 1 7935 0750) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Odi-se Avocats website can be accessed at www.odise.com.
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