A photo taken on March 25 shows an empty street in Cannes, France. The jet’s passengers were headed to the town but didn’t make it past the airport in Marseille. Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images
(CNN) — A group of international vacationers who flew from London to the south of France in a private jet were turned away by French police after they landed.
French border police were notified on April 4 by the Marseille Provence Airport that an English company wanted to fly a jet from London to Marseille, carrying 10 passengers of Croatian, French, German, Romanian and Ukrainian nationality.
The passengers, seven men between the ages of 40 and 50 and three women who were “around 25,” were heading to Cannes, an official with the Marseille Provence Air Border Police told CNN.
France is under a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and foreigners entering French territory need to have an essential reason to do so under emergency rules, such as medical personnel coming as reinforcements for hospital staff, or individuals transporting medical equipment.
The police informed the airport that everyone but the French nationals (two men and one woman) would be denied entry, but the flight nonetheless landed at around 3 p.m. local time on Saturday, the Air Border Police official said.
Shortly before the Embraer Legacy jet’s arrival, three helicopters from a luxury company from the region of Le Var had arrived at the airport, the official said.
The trip was organized by a Croatian national working in real estate and finance, the Air Border Police official said, adding that the man had rented the plane and three helicopters, as well as a villa in Cannes.
He told authorities he had “a lot of money” and wanted “to just pay a fine and go to Cannes,” the official told CNN.
The seven foreigners were refused entry into France by the border police, and nine passengers returned to London, including the three French nationals, while a Ukrainian passenger rented a plane to Berlin, the official said.
The encounter ended at around 7 p.m. local time, he added.
The Air Transport Gendarmerie issued a fine to the three helicopter pilots because they were traveling without a valid reason, the official said, as nonessential trips within France are not allowed amid the coronavirus restrictions.
The Border Police could not charge the passengers or the airplane pilots because they hadn’t yet legally entered French territory, the Air Border Police official said.