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German opposition leader defends private flight

Saim Dušan Inayatullah
July 25, 2022

CDU leader Friedrich Merz piloted a flight to the wedding of Finance Minister Christian Lindner, which has drawn criticism. He said he uses his plane "primarily for professional purposes."

Friedrich Merz speaks with ZDF journalist Shakuntala Banerjee
Merz defended the private flight in an interview for ZDFImage: Marius Becker/dpa/ZDF/picture alliance

German Christian Democrat (CDU) leader Friedrich Merz defended his journey by private plane to the wedding of Finance Minister Christian Lindner of the Free Democrats (FDP) in an interview given to public broadcaster ZDF on Sunday.

The CDU is Germany's largest opposition party while the FDP is a part of the country's ruling coalition along with the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens.

What did Merz say?

Merz told ZDF that he had no regrets over traveling by plane.

"To put it in a nutshell: I use less fuel in this small plane than any official car of a member of the German government. And that's why I fly," Merz said.

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Merz added that he uses his plane "primarily for professional purposes."

"I stand by it, and it is, if you like, an old dream of mine. Always has been," he said.

Pictures of Merz and his wife aboard the plan made headlines earlier this month. Merz flew the plane himself.

The pair went to the island of Sylt in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, where Lindner married political reporter Franca Lehfeldt. Sylt forms part of the North Frisian islands and lies just south of Germany's border with Denmark.

Greens response

Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir of the Greens responded to Merz's claim that he uses less fuel than a member of the ruling coalition.

"My company car is an e-car and therefore directly consumes no fuel at all. Neither does my bicycle," Özdemir wrote on Twitter on Sunday evening.

With material from DPA

Edited by: John Silk

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