German government planes continue to cause trouble for officials

Published 01.02.2019 00:14

In the latest of a series of German government plane failures, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier became the latest politician to be plagued by problems with a government plane on Wednesday, when technical problems delayed his return home from a state visit to Ethiopia.

Technicians were working to get the plane ready to fly as soon as they could, according to staff in Addis Ababa. The 55-strong delegation traveling with Steinmeier was waiting in a hotel while the repairs were under way. Steinmeier already had one extended stay in Ethiopia due to government plane problems, when his flight got delayed while he was there as foreign minister in 2014.

German government planes have recently hit the headlines over technical glitches and caused embarrassment for officials. German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, had to interrupt his Africa tour earlier this month in Malawi as he was forced to take a scheduled flight to Zambia in order to continue his tour.

At the end of November 2018, Chancellor Angela Merkel had to interrupt her journey to the G20 summit in Argentina because the radio system of the government plane she was on malfunctioned. After the incident on the way to Buenos Aires, the German Air Force, or Luftwaffe, could not fly the chancellor on to the G20 summit in another plane in time because no operational crew was available. Merkel had to take a scheduled flight the following day.

According to the reports, a month earlier, in October 2018, German Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz, flying with the same aircraft, was also stranded during the International Monetary Fund meeting after the aircraft's technical failure. These series of mishaps have raised questions over the chronic underinvestment in the German army, or Bundeswehr. The Bundeswehr has stepped up efforts to make improvements following the embarrassing breakdown in Chancellor Merkel's airplane for the G20 summit. The Bundeswehr has considered it necessary to procure at least a third long-haul aircraft of the necessary type – an A330 or A350. Currently, it has two A340s available for the chancellor and other top government officials.

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