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FM Baerbock ‘plane incident’ prompts Germany to retire 2 aircraft

FM
BM. GE
15.08.23 16:27
4

Germany will decommission two outdated Airbus A340 government planes as quickly as possible after Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was stranded with one in Abu Dhabi due to safety issues canceling her Oceania tour, an air force spokesperson said Tuesday.

As a result of the incident, the planes will be taken out of service in the coming weeks, bringing forward their planned decommissioning from September 2023 and the end of 2024, respectively, the spokesperson added.

Baerbock canceled her planned week-long trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji on Tuesday after being forced to return to Abu Dhabi twice due to a technical malfunction with the wing flaps following a refueling stop there.

Her A340 was still parked in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday morning.

The incident was the latest of several that have caused Berlin to overhaul and modernize its government fleet.

In 2018, former Chancellor Angela Merkel missed the opening of the G-20 summit in Argentina over a "serious malfunction" that forced her A340 government plane to make an unscheduled landing.

Going forward, the air force will rely on its "robust and modern" fleet of A350 long-haul aircraft to replace the retired A340, the spokesperson said.

He was referring to two A350s already in the service of the Luftwaffe's VIP squadron, while a third one is being retrofitted for government use by the industry.

A spokesperson of the defense ministry did not respond on Monday to questions regarding the age of the retired planes, Reuters reports.