The German Defence Ministry has informed the government that it’s necessary to buy at least one long-distance aircraft, an Airbus 330 or 350 for the Air Force’s VIP fleet of two A340s, the outlet Bild reports. This would cost between 200 and 300 million euros, depending on the model, its equipment and whether the plane has already been in use.
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, representing the Christian Democratic Union, stated that the country’s budget should pay these expenses, and not the Air Force, whose budget is meant for helicopters and planes for military operations.
“The chancellor's delayed arrival at G20 was bitter. In order not to let this happen again, we are now starting to expand the flying team and check if it’s possible to add one or two other long-haul aircrafts", von der Leyen told the newspaper.
As an immediate measure, she stated that a complete aircraft crew would be available as an emergency reserve for major international events such as G20 summits or NATO meetings. After the technical emergency in the government’s current Airbus, the Air Force could not bring the German chancellor in another aircraft in time for the G20 summit, because no operational crew was ready to fly.
Angela Merkel was a latecomer after the government's Konrad Adenauer Airbus suffered technical problems while taking her to Argentina. According to the magazine Der Spiegel, 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.
Der Spiegel reports that the situation was "so dicey" that 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.