Ryanair will close its Marseille base from 11 January 2011 in response to legal action by the French authorities over the airline’s working practices.
The French Government wants Ryanair’s 200 Marseille-based pilots and cabin crew to pay income tax and social security in France, rather than in Ireland as they do currently.
However, according to Ryanair, its Marseille crew fully comply with the European Directive on Transport Workers.
The Directive allows mobile transport workers to pay income tax and social insurance in the country where they work or where their employer is resident and where they are physically paid, which in this case is Ireland.
The closure of the Marseille base will result in the 200 Ryanair jobs and four aircraft being switched to competitor airports in Spain, Italy and Lithuania.
In addition, 13 Marseille routes will be axed from 11 January, although the airline will continue to operate ten, including Stansted, using aircraft and crew based elsewhere.
Chief executive, 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.
‘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.’
Marseille has been the airline’s Mediterranean hub since November 2006.