Ryanair is to shut its only French base in Marseille in the new year in a row over hiring staff on Irish contracts.
The budget carrier will withdraw four aircraft operating 13 routes from the airport in the South of France from January 11, with the loss of 200 jobs.
The airline is pulling out after French authorities refused to drop a case against it over workers’ contracts.
They claim that Ryanair’s mobile workers should pay income tax and social insurance in France, rather than in Ireland, even though this is contrary to EU regulations, the airline claims.
Ryanair has taken a case to European courts against the French decree which it says “clearly runs counter” to EU rules on international transport workers.
Flights will still run to the Mediterranean port city from ten points such as London, Brussels and Frankfurt using aircraft and crew based elsewhere.
But 13 services to destinations including Agadir, Palermo and Venice will be dropped with aircraft and crew transferred to airports in Spain, Italy and Lithuania.
Chief executive Michael O’Leary, who first threatened to withdraw from Marseille in May, 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.
“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.”
“Sadly the loss of these four aircraft, 200 jobs and 13 routes at Marseille is the high price necessary to demonstrate that these are mobile Irish workers, which is why they are covered by the EU regulations for mobile transport workers; and not by a local French decree which Ryanair is currently appealing to the European Courts.
“This ill-judged legal action has therefore cost Marseille and France jobs, foreign investment and lost visitors in circumstances where our Marseille base fully complies with EU regulations for transport workers.”