Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was scheduled to leave Delhi on Sunday following the conclusion of the G20 Summit, finally flew home on Tuesday afternoon after his plane developed a technical snag. Trudeau departed from New Delhi, where he was staying at a hotel, after the replacement aircraft that is flying to India after a stopover in London. This isn’t the first time that the Canadian PM had to be stranded due to a technical snag in his plane, commonly known as CANFORCE ONE. During his 2018 India trip, the same aircraft developed a snag during a refuelling stop in Rome. The issue extended the fuel stop from the usual 1.5 hours to three hours.
Not Just Trudeau: Other World Leaders and Aircraft Troubles
However, such awkward situations haven’t just happened with the Canadian Prime Minister. There have been several instances where heads of states have to remain stranded on foreign lands, mostly due to technical issues in their aircraft. Here’s a look at some of such instances.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was stranded in Abu Dhabi for more than 18 hours in August while traveling to Australia after the Airbus A340-300 plane encountered a technical fault and had to return to the UAE capital after a refuelling stop. The same German Airbus plane, carrying former Chancellor Angela Merkel on board, had to turn back to Cologne in Germany while the German head was going to participate in G20 summit in Buenos Aires in 2018. In 2019, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was stranded in Mali after his government airplane- an Airbus A319 was unable to depart due to technical problem, according to DW.
The Boeing 757 that is used by the New Zealand leaders is so prone to breakdowns, that it is accompanied by an empty backup to ensure the head of state doesn’t get stranded in a foreign country. This actually happened with New Zealand’s Chris Hipkins, where the country’s government sent a twin aircraft during this tour of China. The Royal New Zealand Air Force plane that transports the prime minister is around 30 years old and is due to be replaced by 2030. In October 2022, then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was on her visit to Antarctica, had to spend an extra night on the remote continent after her aircraft broke down on the runway. In 2016, then Prime Minister John Key, who was en route to India, got stuck in Australia until a backup plane was sent.
Bolivian presidential plane was forced to land in Austria in 2013 after false rumors circulated that former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden was aboard the aircraft. The Portuguese and French authorities didn’t allow President Evo Morales’ plane, flying from Moscow back to Bolivia, to land for refueling in their respective countries. The plane had to finally land in Austria.
These incidents serve as a reminder that even world leaders are not immune to the occasional technical glitches that can disrupt travel plans. Whether it’s a Prime Minister or a President, when an aircraft encounters problems in a foreign land, it can lead to unexpected delays and logistical challenges.