Pope Francis to fly with ITA Airways to Budapest

A new ITA Airways Airbus A320neo on the taxiway.
Photo Credit: ITA Airways

Later this month, Italian flag carrier ITA Airways will undertake a papal flight – transporting Pope Francis to the city of Budapest. The special flight service, which will take place on April 28, will be operated by an ITA Airways Airbus A320neo.

Flight scheduling


The Holy Father will depart on April 28 at 8:15 a.m. from Rome Fiumicino Airport to Budapest-Ferenc Liszt International Airport.

For this upcoming Apostolic Journey, he will be travelling on an ITA Airways flight with zero CO2 environmental impact. ITA Airways has chosen the Airbus A320neo with new blue livery to accompany the Holy Father on his trip.

This is a technological and efficient aircraft, benefitting from a 20% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions per passenger compared to previous generation aircraft.

As usual, the flight will depart from Terminal 5 at Leonardo da Vinci Airport, with landing scheduled at 10:05 a.m. local time in Budapest.

Welcoming the Holy Father on board at Fiumicino Airport there will be Antonino Turicchi, President of ITA Airways, Fabio Maria Lazzerini, CEO and General Manager ITA Airways, and Emiliana Limosani, Chief Commercial Officer ITA Airways and CEO Volare.

Flight crew

Commander Massimiliano Marselli, with 18,000 hours of flight experience will be the supervisor of on-board activities; the crew will be of 9 people, including 3 pilots and 6 flight attendants, plus the ITA Airways team dedicated to special flights.

For the first time on a papal flight, the Company’s staff will wear the new ITA Airways uniforms. As usual, in addition to the papal delegation, representatives of the Italian and international press will travel with Pope Francis.

Sustainable operations

On this trip, ITA Airways has prepared a plan that contemplates the efficiency of operational procedures.

The use of Sustainable Airline Fuel (SAF) for an amount equal to 0.5 percent of the refuelling needed for flight will be factored.

The full offsetting of emissions that cannot be eliminated will be carried out through participation in a Gold Standard certified CO2 reduction project.

Papal flights with the national carrier


The Pope has traditionally flown with Alitalia, the flag carrier of Italy, for his international travels. The state-backed ITA (Italia Transporto Aero), took over Alitalia operations on October 15, 2021, when it became ITA Airways.

The Italian national carrier previously had a long-standing relationship with the Vatican, and it has been the preferred airline of the Pope for several decades.

The airline offered a dedicated service for the Pope, known as “Papal Flight,” which included special amenities and arrangements, such as a separate entrance at airports and an onboard chapel.

However, there have been instances where the Pope has flown with other airlines. For example, during his visit to the United States in 2015, Pope Francis flew on American Airlines.

Pope Francis boards an American Airlines aircraft in 2015.
Above: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves goodbye to Pope Francis as he prepares to step aboard his chartered American Airlines Boeing 777 at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Maryland, before the Pontiff took a flight to New York, N.Y., on September 24, 2015. Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

He also flew on Sri Lankan Airlines during his visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines in 2015. In 2016, he flew on Aegean Airlines during his visit to Greece.

These flights were arranged to accommodate the Pope’s schedule and travel needs, as well as to strengthen ties between the Vatican and the respective countries.

It’s worth noting that the Pope’s travel arrangements are carefully planned and coordinated by the Vatican, and the choice of airline is often influenced by a variety of factors, including safety, availability, and cost.

Nevertheless, ITA Airways remains the airline of choice for most of the Pope’s travels, and the flight service continues to provide a unique and special experience for both the Pope and his entourage.

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