German Minister Gerd Müller stranded in Zambia after plane breaks down

Development Minister Müller has been forced to cancel a trip to Namibia and delay his return to Germany. He is the latest in a growing list of high-level German politicians grounded by plane trouble.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller's schedule has been thrown into chaos, causing him to cancel a visit to Namibia and postponing his return home by at least two days. 

The cause of the disruption was yet another government plane breakdown, the latest in a series that saw Chancellor Angela Merkel unable to attend the opening of the November G20 summit in Argentina because of technical problems, and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz stranded in Indonesia after rodents gnawed through the cables of his plane while he was attending International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings on the archipelago in October. 

'Enormously negative effect'

The minister decried the incidents as "enormously negative symbolic effect for the high-tech nation of Germany."

"These failures must come to an end."

Müller was scheduled to depart Malawi on Monday when his Bombardier Global 5000 was unable to take off due to a defective pressure valve. He was eventually able to continue on to Zambia on a commercial flight but has been stranded there since. 

Although he met with Zambian President Edgar Lungu and toured a local copper mine, he was unable to travel to Namibia where he was scheduled to speak with leaders about Germany's historic responsibility regarding its colonial past in the country.

Originally scheduled to fly back to Germany from Namibia late Wednesday evening, it is now unclear when Müller will be able to fly. A government spokeswoman said he is expected to return on Friday.

German air force mechanics have arrived in Malawi to repair the minister's plane, yet they, too, have been forced to bide their time as the replacement valve that was sent their way from Germany is stranded as well. It's in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

Grounded: Problems with Germany's government planes

Late to G20 summit

While en route to a G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November 2018, the A340-300 "Konrad Adenauer" carrying German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz had to make an unexpected landing at the Cologne/Bonn Airport. Merkel showed up late to the conference in the Argentinian capital.

Grounded: Problems with Germany's government planes

Rodents? You're kidding right?

It was the second consecutive month in which the "Konrad Adenauer" needed to be grounded. The A340 also left Scholz stranded in Indonesia following a meeting of the International Monetary Fund in October 2018 after rodents gnawed through electric cables.

Grounded: Problems with Germany's government planes

Trouble in Africa

The "Konrad Adenauer" isn't the only Airbus belonging to the German government that has experienced problems. The A340 "Theodor Heuss" jet carrying German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier experienced technical problems during his trip to several countries in Africa.

Grounded: Problems with Germany's government planes

Tell them I'll be late

Steinmeier also had his fair share of woes with the "Konrad Adenauer" jet. The German president's trip to Belarus in June 2018 was delayed due to problems with the plane's hydraulic system.

Grounded: Problems with Germany's government planes

Pressure starts to tell

German Development Minister Gerd Müller's schedule was thrown into chaos when he was forced to cancel a visit to Namibia in January 2018 — because of plane trouble. Müller was scheduled to depart Malawi when his Bombardier Global 5000 was unable to take off due to a defective pressure valve. He was eventually able to continue on to Zambia on a commercial flight.

Grounded: Problems with Germany's government planes

I hear it's snowing at home

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was grounded in Ethiopia yet again when the "Theodore Heuss" was unable to embark on its return flight due to an air pressure problem. The delay would seem to put Steinmeier ahead of Olaf Scholz for the title of German official most often stranded due to technical problems.

Grounded: Problems with Germany's government planes

Foreign minister stranded in Mali

On February 28, 2019, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was forced to stay overnight in the capital of Mali, Bamako, after his government plane had a mechanical problem. Maas strugged off the delay, saying he had traveled all over the world without a problem.

Grounded: Problems with Germany's government planes

The "Konrad Adenauer" strikes back with a burst tire

On April 1, 2019, the "Konrad Adenauer" hit back after a four-month overhaul. The ageing Airbus behaved badly on its first outing after its forced hiatus. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was on board when one of the tire's burst upon landing in New York. The plane had to be towed to a parking space, with the delay forcing Maas to miss an appointment at the UN Security Council.

Grounded: Problems with Germany's government planes

Crash landing

Also in April 2019, a Bombardier Global 5000 was severely damaged in an emergency landing after problems during a test flight. Pilots lost control of the plane shortly after take off and when attempting to land, where it jolted off the runway. The flight was a test flight after weeks of maintenance on the aircraft.

Grounded: Problems with Germany's government planes

Maas delayed again

In May, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was delayed for a third time after engine trouble struck the Bundeswehr A321 he was travelling on for his first trip to Bulgaria. The plane's pilot blamed the failure of an auxiliary turbine, which supplies compressed air to the plane's engines, for the tardiness.

js,es/sms (dpa, epd)