RYANAIR is to appeal the €9million fines and damages imposed after being found guilty of breaking employment laws and avoiding paying social charges for 127 staff working out of Marseille airport.
The low-cost airline said there was “a clear contradiction between current EU employment regulations and the 2006 French decree requiring airline crews to pay social taxes and pension contributions in France”.
It said it would pursue its appeal to the European Court where it expected the court to “uphold EU regulations on the employment of mobile transport workers”.
The court in Aix-en-Provence ruled that Ryanair acted illegally in employing the 127 staff on Irish contracts between 2007 and 2010.
It ordered the company, which recently warned that its annual profit could be at the low end of the forecast €570m-€600m range, to pay a €200,000 fine and damages of €4.5m to sécurité sociale agencies, €450,000 to the unemployment agency and €3m for the Caisse de Retraite pension fund. Airline crew unions also received damages.
The penalty was less than that demanded by prosecutors, who had called for the airline to be fined the value of its four jets based at Marseille.
Ryanair said its staff were “employed on Irish contracts, operating on Irish registered aircraft (defined as Irish territory) and have already paid their taxes, social taxes and state pension contributions in Ireland, in full compliance with Irish and EU regulations”.
Airline spokesman Robin Kiely said: “We do not believe that either Ryanair or our people can be forced to double pay these contributions a second time in France.”
However, the Aix judge said that Ryanair operated under the same conditions as any other airline in France. The company should have registered itself in Aix and worked under local rules on tax and social payments as its staff were based at Marseille’s Marignane Airport and living in the area.
The magistrate said French social charges were about 40-45% of wages as against just 10.75% in Ireland and accused Ryanair of “dumping its social costs” on France to reduce its staff employment costs.
Other low-cost airlines easyJet and CityJet have already been fined €1.6m and €1m respectively on similar charges.