Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took off from New Delhi at 1pm after his plane, which had suffered a technical snag, was cleared to fly. “The technical issue with the plane has been resolved,” Mohammad Hussain, the prime minister’s press secretary said in a statement. “The plane has been cleared to fly.”
Trudeau had been stranded together with the Canadian delegation after the Group of 20 or G20 Summit in New Delhi after the Airbus SE plane they arrived had broken down.
On Monday, the prime minister’s office said the Canadian Armed Forces continue their best efforts to get the delegation home.
“We will keep you updated regularly as the situation evolves. Their latest update shows an earliest possible departure of Tuesday late afternoon. The situation remains fluid,” it had said.
The plane drama only added to Trudeau’s woes in his travels to India. His first trip in 2018 became a diplomatic disaster after it emerged that a man who had been convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian politician on Canadian soil somehow ended up on Canada’s guest list for an event.
On this trip, even before the plane breakdown, Trudeau had been publicly criticised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly allowing the “anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada,” a reference to pro-Khalistanis.
Back home, Trudeau’s travel delays also stirred debate about the crumbling nature of Canada’s state infrastructure.
The Airbus A310s that carry Trudeau and other top officials abroad date back to the 1980s and are badly showing their age. They are so old they require refueling stops for Trudeau’s trips to Asia, often with stopovers in Alaska and Japan before reaching their final destination.
Even so, the planes touched off a controversy in the early 1990s when the government of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney bought and retrofitted them. Mulroney’s successor, Jean Chretien, famously derided one them as a “flying Taj Mahal” and refused to use it for official trips for fear of looking out of touch with ordinary Canadians.
The government is in the midst of gradually replacing its fleet of government transports with Airbus 330s, but they are still being retrofitted for use.