Ryanair flirting with fraud, say French anti-airport campaigners

Activists in France’s eastern Jura region have accused Ryanair of “flirting with fraud” after the regional council agreed to subsidise the budget airline in the hope of creating 30 jobs.

AFP/Pascal Lachenaud

Ryanair will receive 13 euros for every seat it fills on flights into the Dole-Tavaux airport when it starts a connection to the Porto airport in Portugal in April next year, according to a coalition of campaign groups called Dole-Tavaux, l’aéroport de trop (Dole-Tavaux, an airport too far).

The company hopes to fly 30,000 passengers a year and says that 30 jobs will be created, either directly or indirectly.

But its opponents accuse it of blackmailing local authorities to give it handouts and low running as bribes to use small airports in their region.

“The company is flirting with fraud, it is at the limits of the law with practices that surf regulations to win public funding,” the alliance’s spokesperson Pascal Blain told the AFP news agency.

Air France complained to the European Commission about Ryanair’s practices in 2009. In July the commission opened an inquiry into grants given to the company by Frankfurt-Hahn and Marseille airports.

The Jura regional council’s grant will not go above 200,000 euros, according to its president, Socialist Christophe Perny, and was part of a plan to revive the airport, which received only 5,000 passengers in 2010.

Four other companies may decide to use it next year.

Opponents, which include far-left and Green political parties, wants the airport closed, claiming it has a “catastrophic” effect on the environment and cannot be justified socially.

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