The French civil aviation authority have released a Ryanair plane after the Irish airline paid up the €525,000 (£457,000) bill that was owed.
A Boeing 737 was seized at Bordeaux airport on Thursday, with the flight due to carry 149 passengers to Stansted that afternoon.
The row was over money the airline received as aid related to its activities at the regional airport of Angouleme between 2008 and 2009, which the European Commission since deemed illegal.
Authorities had being trying to recoup the subsidies since 2014 and sent a final legal warning in May, but were forced to take the forceful stance of grounding a multi-million pound plane after Ryanair failed to respond.
After seizing the plane, the civil aviation authority said: "It is unfortunate that the state had to take such action, which led to the inevitable inconvenience of the 149 passengers on board the immobilised plane.
"Those passengers were able to eventually reach their destination later that evening on another Ryanair plane, but with a five-hour delay."
Ryanair are yet to comment publicly on the matter.