Breakdowns on government planes occur again and again. However, switching to airline still doesn’t seem to be an attractive alternative for the frequent flyers in the cabinet.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and his ministers have only completed a small portion of their foreign trips on scheduled flights since they were sworn in almost two years ago.
A response from the Federal Ministry of the Interior to a query from left-wing MP Sevim Dagdelen shows that the traffic light government spent far more than two-thirds of its time traveling with the Bundeswehr’s flight readiness, which currently has 16 aircraft of different sizes for transporting politicians .
Only five of the 19 cabinet members who have been in office continuously or temporarily since December 2021 did not use the Air Force for foreign trips: Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP), Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens), Construction Minister Clara Geywitz (SPD) and in April 2022 resigned Family Minister Anne Spiegel and her successor Lisa Paus (both Greens).
Scholz is the front runner
On the other hand, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD), who resigned in January, were only traveling abroad to be ready to fly. Scholz’s flights add up to 163. Lambrecht made 25 trips abroad during her year in office – also all with the willingness to fly.
Her successor Boris Pistorius (SPD) flew with scheduled airlines at least once on his 18 trips so far. According to the information, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) traveled on scheduled flights three times on her 90 trips abroad up to September 5th.
In order to respond to the parliamentary question, the Ministry of the Interior asked all departments about business trips abroad since December 8, 2021 – the day the government was sworn in in the Bundestag. Some ministries reported complete trips, sometimes with several flights, others only reported single flights. The bottom line is that the list shows 271 trips (some of them multiple flights) and 218 individual flights that are available to fly. This compares to 39 trips (some of them several flights) and 129 single scheduled flights. 11 further trips are stated as partly with scheduled flights and partly with flight readiness.
Planning effort for scheduled flights is higher
Flight readiness has repeatedly hit the headlines in recent years because of mishaps. Most recently, Baerbock had to cancel a trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji in Abu Dhabi due to a defective landing flap. Nevertheless, the federal government’s frequent flyers in particular are reluctant to travel by scheduled flights because the planning effort is much greater. There are also relatively few direct flights abroad from Berlin compared to other capital airports such as London or Paris.
Left-wing MP Sevim Dagdelen criticized the practice. “With the excessive use of the flight availability, the traffic light government is reducing its promises to use tax money sparingly and to protect the environment and climate to absurdity,” she says. “It is significant that even Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser prefers to use the expensive Bundeswehr planes rather than fly routes that are cheaper for taxpayers.” The Interior Ministry reported that Faeser (SPD) was willing to fly on 34 trips abroad, but only two scheduled flights.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.