More than a dozen police cars and a helicopter pursued the fugitive over a distance up the wrong side of a motorway before he broke through security barriers at the Lyon-Saint-Exupery international airport.
The car then hurtled across the runway zone before coming to a halt on rough terrain beside the tarmac. The intruder sought to flee on foot but was tackled by officers and arrested.
The motive of the driver, whose identity has not yet been made public, was not clear, the source said.
Flights were grounded until further notice, the airport tweeted.
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