Ryanair bags €10.2m penalty in France over breach of labour laws

Court rejects prosecutor’s demand that airline should also be 'fined' €300m

Paris

The cut-price airline Ryanair was ordered today to pay more than €10m (£8.4m) in fines and penalties for trampling French labour laws.

A court in the south of France rejected the prosecutor’s demand that the airline should also be “fined” four Boeing 737 aircraft – or roughly €300m.

The criminal court in Aix-en-Provence ruled that Ryanair was guilty of employing 127 air-crew at Marseille airport for five years on Irish contracts. The judges ordered the company to pay a fine of €200,000 and €10m in compensation and backdated social and pension contributions to the French state.

Even before the judgement, Ryanair issued a statement  forecasting that it would be found guilty. “We will appeal,” the airline said. “European employment and social security law clearly allows mobile workers on Irish-registered aircraft, working for an Irish airline, to pay their taxes and social taxes in Ireland.”

The case is likely to go all the way to the European Court in Luxembourg and could – if Ryanair succeeds – transform labour laws in Europe. The principle of “mobile labour” claimed by the airline could apply to all European air carriers, to large truck companies and other contract workers. The French government argues that this would amount to a legalisation of “social dumping, undermining the foundations of its welfare state.

Paris says that the 127 air-crew employed by Ryanair from its Marseille hub from 2006 to 2010 were clearly based in France and therefore subject to French labour law and relatively high French pay-roll taxes. Ryanair claims that its pilots and cabin staff were operating across national boundaries and not based in any one country.

In a delayed judgement after a hearing in May, the Tribunal Correctionnel in Aix yesterday accepted the arguments of the state prosecutor.

However, the judges drew the line at “seizing” the four Boeing 737 aircraft which the French state claimed should be forfeit because they were “used in committing the offences”.

According to current list prices, a Boeing 737-800 of the kind used by Ryanair is worth about €75m.

When the case was first brought in 2010, Ryanair announced that it was shutting its hub at Marseille-Marignane airport. The airline has, however, continued to use, during the summer months only, a new terminal at the airport built especially for cut-price airlines.

At the trial in May, the state prosecutor said that the 127 Ryanair based in Marseille from 2006 to 2010 “operated in exactly the same conditions as the crews of other airlines based in France.” Marseille-Marignane airport was the “de facto centre of their professional activities”.

They were therefore subject to French labour laws and should have been employed on French contracts. Both the employees and Ryanair should have made payroll contributions to the French state organisations which fund unemployment benefit, health care and pensions.

Ryanair’s lawyers said that, under EU law, the cabin crew could be employed on Irish contracts because they flew between several European countries. They could not be said to be working wholly in France.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Bianca Miller in the final of The Apprentice
tvMark Wright and Bianca Miller fight for Lord Sugar's investment
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick