BOGOTA – Pope Francis will have available two Airbus A320s for his internal flights while visiting Colombia next week, and two Boeing 787s for his return flight to Rome from Cartagena, the Avianca airline said Friday.
The pontiff will arrive in Bogota next Wednesday and will spend the next day, Sept. 7, in the Colombian capital. Over the next three days he will travel to the cities of Villavicencio on the plains, Medellin in the northwest and Cartagena on the Caribbean, from where he will leave for Rome the night of Sept. 10.
The second Airbus will be available in case it becomes necessary to substitute the first one on internal flights.
“Each of these aircraft has been modified with three cabins – one for Pope Francis and his closest retinue, another for an important part of his entourage, and a third for reporters,” the president of Avianca, Hernan Rincon, told a press conference.
The airplanes are decorated with graphics honoring the pope’s visit, such as the papal coat of arms on the blankets and on the fuselage.
“Journey of Hope,” the name given to the papal tour of Colombia, will have at least 120 people taking part to guarantee the bishop of Rome’s comfort and safety.
“There are 38 officials, seven pilots, 26 cabin crew, three maintenance engineers and two security engineers, as well as 30 other professionals,” Rincon said.
“Some of these crew members have been with Avianca for more than 27 years and know perfectly every single detail necessary for offering top quality service,” he said.
About the flight from Cartagena to Rome, the airline president said the pope will travel in “the most modern plane of the Avianca fleet,” the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, characterized by a modern design that offers “maximum comfort,” while another such airliner will be standing by in case it is needed.
Francis will be the third pope to travel on Avianca after Paul VI did so in 1968 and John Paul II boarded in 1983, 1986 and 2002.