It’s what he always does…
You might think it’s because it’s the only flight that suited his schedule, but you’d be wrong.
Pope Francis arrived in Ireland on Saturday morning on an Alitalia flight from Rome, and will leave Ireland on Sunday evening at 6.30pm with a farewell ceremony in Dublin Airport.
We’ve already explained why Pope Francis is being driven around in a car with the licence plate “SCV 1”.
But Pope Francis is leaving on an Aer Lingus flight for a very particular reason.
Despite popular belief, the Pope does not have his own plane. So when people refer to “Shepherd One”, they’re not referring to one particular plane, but rather whatever plane the Pope is travelling in.
The tradition is for the Pope to take the Italian national airline, Alitalia, to wherever he’s going, and then fly the national carrier of that country on his return.
For example, when he visited Sri Lanka and the Philippines back in 2015, he took Alitalia to get there and Philippine Airlines to get back to Rome.
This is why he’ll leave Ireland on an Aer Lingus flight and why he’s flown domestically with Aer Lingus.
Pope Francis is back in Dublin for the Phoenix Park mass at 2.30pm and will depart Ireland at 6.30pm on Sunday evening.
For those of you who can’t make it to the public events, the whole weekend will be broadcast live across a number of Irish TV stations. Full details here.