Ryanair may quit Marseille over court case: report

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Low-cost airline Ryanair may quit its base in Marseille because of a case filed by French prosecutors for illegal working practices, the company's boss said, according to a newspaper report Saturday.

In a "confidential" letter, Michael O'Leary wrote that the company would quickly announce alternative plans, which would involve closing their Marseille operation, and relocating outside France, Le Parisien newspaper reported.

The letter, dated October 4, came a week after prosecutors in Marseille charged Ryanair with illegal working practices after the Irish budget airline declared 120 employees in France as working in Ireland.

In May, O'Leary threatened to pull out of the Mediterranean city come November if the case against the company went ahead.

He said at the time that Ryanair's 120 employees in Marseille paid their taxes, social security and pension payments in Ireland "in conformity with European law."

But the unions who filed the original legal complaint say that employees living in France should be declared in France.

Marseille has been Ryanair's Mediterranean hub since November 2006, with four aircraft and 120 staff.

It is not the first time the company's practices have been challenged in France.

A French court in 2007 dismissed a complaint by Ryanair against a law saying that employees of foreign airlines living in France have to come under French social security and tax law.

Ryanair has taken that case to the European Court of Human Rights.

© 2010 AFP

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