German government plane blocks runway at Berlin airport

BERLIN — A rough landing by a German government plane at one of Berlin’s airports brought flights to a standstill for more than two hours on Tuesday, adding to a long list of embarrassing mishaps for the military-operated fleet.

The German air force, which operates the aircraft, said both wings of the Bombardier Global 5000 jet touched the ground as it landed at Schoenefeld airport after turning back because of a malfunction. It said the crew was undergoing medical checks and the cause of the incident was being examined.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said that the crew managed “to get the jet on the ground under very difficult circumstances and prevent worse things,” news agency dpa reported. The plane had been at Schoenefeld for maintenance and was headed back to its base in Cologne.

The city’s airport operator tweeted after the incident Tuesday morning that flights headed for Schoenefeld were being diverted because of an “inoperative aircraft on the runway” and check-in was suspended. Flight operations resumed around noon, though the airport warned that there could still be delays.

Schoenefeld is one of two Cold War-era airports that serve the German capital ahead of the long-delayed opening of a new airport, currently scheduled for October next year.

The German government’s fleet of 14 aircraft has become increasingly notorious for frequent malfunctions, with a string of embarrassing high-profile mishaps in recent months.

In November, Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived late at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina after a problem with her Airbus A340 forced the plane to turn back. Merkel then took a commercial flight. Other recent mishaps have left the foreign minister stranded in Mali overnight and the president for several hours in Ethiopia.

The government is purchasing three new long-haul planes. It has four Global 5000s, fitted out for delegations of up to 13 people.

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