German FM axes trip after plane breaks down

German FM axes trip after plane breaks down

BERLIN: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was forced on Tuesday to scrap her trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji after her plane suffered recurring technical problems, the latest in a series of incidents to hit the German fleet.

“We tried everything but unfortunately it’s logistically not possible to carry out my Indo-Pacific travel (plans) without the defective plane,” the minister wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “That is more than annoying,” she added.

Baerbock had left on Sunday for the week-long trip but her plane had suffered an outage after refuelling in Abu Dhabi.

The minister was stranded for hours while the technical crew battled to fix a problem with the wing flaps.

Her delegation sought to get underway again overnight to Tuesday but the 23-year-old Airbus A340 had to go back to Abu Dhabi when the defect resurfaced.

“For security reasons, the plane had to return there,” wrote the German air force on X. The aircraft had to dump fuel to land safely in Abu Dhabi again, it added.

The mishap revived de­bate about the German government’s ageing planes, with newspapers dubbing the latest incident “embarrassing” and a “fiasco”.

Germany was “turning itself into a laughing stock”, the RND media network wrote in an opinion piece.

It said the breakdown had caused political damage and hurt the “made in Germany” brand at a time when the economy was already struggling.

The incident led Germany’s Luftwaffe air force to announce it had decided to retire the plane early, as well the government’s other A340-300.



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