Angela Merkel will be a late comer to the upcoming G20 summit after the government's Konrad Adenauer Airbus suffered technical problems on Thursday while carrying the German chancellor to Argentina.
According to Der Spiegel magazine, the malfunction was more serious than initially expected: the entire communication system broke down when the plane was flying above the Netherlands, forcing the crew to cancel the flight just one hour after take-off.
The pilots had to use an on-board satellite phone to contact the traffic control centre and make an emergency landing in Cologne.
Der Spiegel reports that the situation was "so dicey" that Germany's Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen was immediately informed about it. She is said to have tried for hours to arrange an alternate flight for Angela Merkel. The Chancellor, who called the affair a "serious malfunction", travelled by bus to Bonn, where she spent the night in a hotel. She flew to Madrid early Friday and is expected to fly to Buenos Aires later in the day.
The federal government had suspicions that the electronic disruption in Merkel's government aircraft could have a criminal background, according to the daily Rheinische Post. The investigators would look "in all directions", the newspaper said, citing government sources.
However, the German Air Force qulled the fears on Friday, confirming that there was no suspicion of criminal activity. "It's a standard check of the radio equipment that failed," a spokesman for the German Air Force said, as quoted by Reuters.
It turned out that the mysterious malfunction was caused by an electronic failure. "The (electronic) distribution box was the cause," the spokesman said.