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German Foreign Minister Analina Berbock has had to ditch a trip to Australia after an aging government plane failed her for the second time.
In an epic described as a national embarrassment, the green politician is forced to cancel the flight after the Luftwaffe’s air force fails to fix a 23-year-old Airbus’ wing-flap problem.
Writing on social media platform X, Burbock said it had become “logistically impossible” to continue the week-long visit, which was also expected to include stops in New Zealand and Fiji.
“This is more than an annoyance,” she wrote.
Barbock and her delegation were stranded in Abu Dhabi on Monday after the plane had to abort its flight three minutes after take-off due to a failure of the wing flap to retract.
The minister declined the option of flying on a commercial airline after the Luftwaffe reassured him that the problems had been resolved after a test flight.
They made a new attempt to leave in the early hours of Tuesday morning. But the pilot again had to abort the flight minutes after take-off when he encountered the same problem. For the second day in a row, the plane had to unload thousands of gallons of fuel to land safely in Abu Dhabi.
Baerbock’s team worked all night to try to find alternatives, but concluded it would be impossible to get the packaged software to work on commercial flights.
Her canceled trip would have been the first visit by a German foreign minister to Australia since 2011, and she described it as an important opportunity to “strengthen cooperation” between the two countries. Burbock also planned to attend one of the Women’s World Cup semi-finals.
After the second failed takeoff, the German Air Force announced that it would accelerate the retirement of two A340s used by ministers, which were due to be decommissioned at the end of September.
German officials on Monday defended the service provided by the Diplomatic Fleet and the German armed forces team that maintains it, despite a long history of technical problems that have plagued many official voyages.
“The air readiness unit in the Bundeswehr is doing an excellent job,” said a spokesperson for the federal government in Berlin, adding that the aircraft was “excellently maintained.”
When asked why Burbock could not use one of three new A350-900s bought by the government at a cost of €1.2 billion — two of which are in service — the MoD said the old aircraft had been selected based on an assessment of availability. and the needs of other users.
It was not clear if the planes were intended for other officials. This week, the Minister of Development visited Mauritania and Nigeria, and Chancellor Olaf Schultz is scheduled to visit Austria.
The incident sparked a bout of anxiety in the German media, with commentators drawing comparisons between the “embarrassing” crash and the country’s slow economic growth, onerous bureaucracy and late trains.
The newspaper “Bild” called it a “disaster” and the news magazine “Der Spiegel” said that the idea of a government plane that could not fly “fits with everything I’ve heard about the state lately”.
Travel with Berbuck Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Institute for Public Policy, a Berlin-based think tank. “The trip, which was perfectly orchestrated to signal Germany’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, turned out to be the perfect metaphor for anyone promoting their favorite theory of German decline,” he said.
“The reputational damage both at home and abroad caused by the series of embarrassing mishaps in the government fleet is real,” Benner said.
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