Germany to prioritize government aircraft for well-known ministers | News | DW | 08.03.2019
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Germany to prioritize government aircraft for well-known ministers

You might be seeing more of Germany's relatively lesser-known international ministers on your next long-haul flight. The head of the Development Ministry isn't too happy about losing his access to the government fleet.

Fewer German Cabinet ministers will have the opportunity to travel on one of the government's official "White Fleet" aircraft, a German magazine reported Friday.

The Defense Ministry plans to reserve the airplanes for the chancellor, vice-chancellor, president, interior minister and foreign minister, according to a document seen by Der Spiegel. The German air force later confirmed the details of the magazine's report.

The document also proposes making a second aircraft and replacement crew available for any of Chancellor Angela Merkel or President Frank-Walter Steinmeier's flights.

Read more: Germany to replace aging fleet of beleaguered government planes

Due to their lower priority, other ministers in Merkel's Cabinet will often need to travel on commercial aircraft, according to the document.

The move is a response to a string of embarrassing aircraft breakdowns in recent months that left Merkel and several other ministers stranded.

In February, Maas got stuck in Mali when technical problems affected his government Airbus A319. Merkel showed up late to a G20 meeting in Argentina in November after her A340-300 was forced to make an unexpected landing in western Germany shortly after it took off from Berlin.

Read more: Man finds himself sitting next to Germany's Angela Merkel on flight to G20

But not everyone in the Cabinet is happy with the Defense Ministry's plans.

"In order to fulfill my obligations in approximately 80 partner countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, it is quite difficult, and in some cases not even possible, to fly on commercial aircraft," International Development Minister Gerd Müller told Der Spiegel.

Read more: German Minister Gerd Müller stranded in Zambia after plane breaks down

Müller said he had to limit a recent South America trip to Mexico because he traveled on a commercial flight. The minister had also planned to visit Brazil, Haiti, Colombia and Ecuador during the trip.

The Defense Ministry also plans to tackle repeated breakdowns by buying three new Airbus A350s to replace the existing fleet of long-distance Airbus aircraft.

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