According to AFP, globe-trotting top US diplomat John Kerry was left hoofing it back on a commercial flight from Vienna Thursday (October 16), after his ageing Air Force plane broke down for the fourth time this year.
The problem turned out to be a leaking fuel tank, which left the plane smelling strongly of aviation fuel and kept it in Vienna overnight.
After marathon talks on Iran's nuclear program in the Austrian capital Wednesday (October 16), Kerry's party of more than 40 State Department staff and journalists were checking out of their hotel rooms before dawn Thursday when the news came that his Boeing 757 needed repairs...again.
Since taking up his post in February 2013, Kerry has flown some 566,000 miles (911,000 kilometers) around the globe and visited 55 countries--many of them multiple occasions-- spending some 249 days on the road.
He's well on his way to overtaking his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, who flew just short of a million miles in her four years in office, visiting a record 112 countries.
Despite a normally well-planned, slick logistical operation to move Kerry and his posse of staff, DS agents and the traveling press as he jets around the world, he has been beset this year by a number of glitches.
COMMENT: The downside of flying commercial for Kerry has much more to with not having access to secure communication, which enable the Secretary to keep in touch with world leaders and the White House even while in aloft.
The latest and fourth breakdown is just one more embarrassment to diminishing US power.
In August, Kerry was forced to take a commercial nine-hour flight back to Washington from Hawaii when his Boeing 757 suffered electrical problems.
Earlier this year, a new transponder had to be flown from the United States to Switzerland when in the middle of international talks on the Syrian conflict in January his aircraft was grounded.
And in London in March, a similar mechanical problem was hastily fixed.
Kerry had been in Vienna for talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Cathy Ashton on Iran's nuclear program.
Zarif chuckled when he heard Kerry's plane was grounded due to apparent mechanical issues. "So it is not just our planes," he told the online news site AL-MONITOR.