German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz was forced yesterday to take a smaller Airbus A321 that required refueling in Iceland on his way to Washington as the German government fleet continues to run into technical difficulties. Scholz had hoped to take the larger Konrad Adenauer A340 for his trip to the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, but tire problems forced the plane to be temporarily grounded.
A similar incident on April 1, its first flight after a four-month retooling pause, forced the plane to be towed to the gate after landing in New York with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on board.
Germany's government planes have suffered repeated technical problems over the past year. Scholz himself was caught in the troubles on a stopover in Indonesia during the last IMF meeting in October after rodents gnawed through the plane's wiring. This series of mishaps has 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 of Chancellor Angela 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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