Ryanair to close Marseille base

Ryanair says it will close its only French base at Marseille Airport from Tuesday 11 January 2011, following the commencement of legal proceedings against Ryanair’s Marseille base, where all of its 200 pilots and cabin crew work on Irish aircraft (i.e. Irish territory) and pay their taxes and social insurance contributions in Ireland where they receive their Irish pay.

The four Marseille based aircraft (and 200 Ryanair jobs) will be moved to competitor airports in Spain, Italy and Lithuania, with the result that 13 Marseille routes will be closed from 11 January. Ryanair will continue to operate 10 routes to/from Marseille Airport, on aircraft and crews that are based elsewhere.

Ryanair says its base at Marseille and its flight crews fully comply with the European Directive on Transport Workers which allows all mobile transport workers to pay income tax and social insurance in the country they work (which in this case is Ireland because they work on Irish registered aircraft which is defined as Irish territory) or where their employer is resident and where they are physically paid, which also in Ryanair’s case is Ireland. The French authorities wish to take a different view and claim that the workers should pay income tax and social insurance in France, rather than in Ireland, even though, says the airline, this is contrary to EU regulations.

Ryanair has taken a case in the European Courts against this French decree which the carrier declares runs counter to EU rules on international transport workers.

Speaking in Marseille, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said, “We are very disappointed at this decision by the French authorities to initiate proceedings against Ryanair’s base in Marseille, which complies fully with EU regulations for mobile transport workers.

“Ryanair remains committed to Marseille Airport and in particular to its low cost MP2 Terminal,” O’Leary added. “Ryanair will now be working with the management of Marseille Airport to try to grow other routes and traffic, on aircraft which are based overseas, particularly as Ryanair opens up bases elsewhere in Europe. Sadly the loser in all of this will be Marseille Airport, tourism and jobs in the Provence region.”

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