Israeli plane bearing Vatican logo to bring pope back to Rome after May visit
Boeing 777 to take Pope Francis home on special El Al flight after Pope Francis meets with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
If you've ever flown out of Israel on one of El Al's Boeing 777s, you'll soon be able to claim that you've had the same experience as Pope Francis – though your flight probably didn't have the Vatican logo on it, and if you flew economy class, you can be pretty sure that you didn't get as much legroom.
"El Al, the national carrier of Israel, is proud to have been chosen to serve the pope and his entourage on this historic visit to Israel with a special flight to Rome following the pope's visit," said El Al CEO David Maimon. "We are making all the necessary arrangements to accommodate for this historic pilgrimage, including assigning a special crew of service personnel for the flight."
Pope Francis' trip to Israel in May, was, well, up in the air for a bit. The pope's planned visit will be "complicated, and perhaps impossible," Foreign Ministry official Yigal Palmor said in early March, citing the difficulties posed by a ministry strike that has since ended.
Later in March, the Vatican released its program for the papal trip to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority on May 24-26, which will include meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as well as Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim religious leaders.
While in the region, the pope will be meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, celebrating Mass in the city's Manger Square, visiting the Western Wall and the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, and meeting with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Israel's two chief rabbis.
El Al's in-air popemobile, adorned with the Vatican logo, will fly the pope back to Rome, along with 30 church officials and 70 journalists.
JTA contributed to this report.
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