After breakdowns in the government plane of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, the Bundeswehr is taking two planes out of service early. In the future, instead of the A340 type aircraft, newer A350s will be used for long-haul routes, as a spokesman for the Air Force announced on Tuesday.

“We will take the two A340s out of service as soon as possible, which means in the coming weeks,” he said. Baerbock (Greens) had to cancel her trip to the Pacific region because of the defects on the way and traveled back to Germany by scheduled flight. Baerbock finally landed at Hamburg Airport in the evening, as confirmed by a dpa reporter on board the plane and dpa photographers.

The same breakdown twice

The same breakdown occurred twice on their A340: After take-off in Abu Dhabi, where the machine was refueled for the long route to Australia, the landing flaps could not be retracted. Baerbock initially considered flying to Sydney on a scheduled flight and making at least part of her appointments. However, she later wrote on the online platform X, formerly known as Twitter: “We have tried everything: unfortunately it is logistically impossible to continue my Indo-Pacific trip without the broken plane. It is more than annoying.”

The Bundeswehr’s flight readiness service has two A340 aircraft that were bought second-hand from Lufthansa in 2011. One of them was actually supposed to be discarded in September, the Baerbock plane at the end of 2024. Now the Bundeswehr prefers this.

Instead, the existing, more modern A350 will be used for long-haul routes in the future. Two of these machines can currently be used in flight readiness. A third has already been purchased, but is still being equipped for the special requirements of government machines.

Baerbock originally wanted to travel to Australia, New Zealand and the island republic of Fiji in the South Pacific with her delegation. The last stop in particular could hardly have been organized in a meaningful way without the government aircraft.

Debate on readiness to fly

After the decision to cancel, the Foreign Minister drove with part of the delegation from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, around 150 kilometers away, and flew home from there by scheduled aircraft.

The demolition triggered a new debate in Berlin about the readiness to fly. The head housekeeper of the left-wing faction, Gesine L√∂tzsch, demanded that they be abolished and switched to scheduled flights in Der Spiegel. “The readiness to fly is expensive, unreliable and causes an oversized ecological footprint. That’s not going to save the climate and the federal budget,” she explained. The FDP defense politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann called the event “simply embarrassing” and called for the procurement of new aircraft.