Ryanair announced (13-Oct-2010) plans to close its only French base at Marseille Airport from 11-Jan-2011. The move follows the commencement of legal proceedings against Ryanair’s Marseille base, where its 200 pilots and cabin crew "work on Irish aircraft (ie Irish territory) and pay their taxes and social insurance contributions in Ireland where they receive their Irish pay". Unions which filed the original complaint claim staff living in France should be declared in the country (AFP, 13-Oct-2010). The four Marseille-based aircraft and 200 jobs will now be moved to competitor airports in Spain, Italy and Lithuania, resulting in the suspension of 13 Marseille routes. Suspended routes include Agadir, Brest, Eindhoven, Lille, Marrakesh, Nador, Nantes, Palermo, Paris, Tangier, Tenerife, Tours and Venice. Ryanair will continue to operate 10 routes to/from Marseille using aircraft and crews that are based elsewhere. The carrier stated its Marseille base and 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 these mobile workers should pay income tax and social insurance in France, rather than in Ireland, even though this is contrary to EU regulations. easyJet suffered a similar issue and was fined in Apr-2010 for hiring 170 staff under British contracts at Paris Orly Airport. [more]
Ryanair: “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. These are not French jobs, but rather Irish jobs on Irish aircraft, which are defined by EU regulations as Irish territory. All of these people pay their tax and social insurance, in accordance with EU regulations, in Ireland and they remain fully tax compliant ... Ryanair remains committed to Marseille Airport and in particular to its low-cost MP2 Terminal. 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,” Michael O'Leary, CEO. Source: Ryanair, 13-Oct-2010.