NEW YORK – May 27, 2014 – Following the monumental visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land, EL AL Israel Airlines flew His Holiness and 100 Vatican officials and international journalists to Rome aboard flight LY514, which departed the evening of Monday, May 26. The flight was operated on a Boeing 777 aircraft, which was adorned with the official coat of arms logo of Pope Francis and outfitted with an array of special services that were coordinated with The Vatican to enhance the flight experience and highlight the best of Israel.
"EL AL, the national airline of Israel, is proud to have been chosen to provide this special flight for the Pope and his entourage following this historic trip to Israel, “ said David Maimon, President and CEO of EL AL Israel Airlines. “We invested a great deal to ensure that all of the requirements were met and that the flight profile highlighted EL AL's uniqueness, including a handpicked crew that served the flight."
The handpicked in-flight crew of 15 was specially chosen to serve His Holiness and other members of the Vatican. The crew members represented all of Israel, people with diverse backgrounds. The captain of this special flight, Yaron Shimoni, is also the captain of EL AL’s 777 fleet and a former Israeli Air Force pilot. Many of the flight attendants speak numerous languages including Portuguese, Italian, French, Spanish, among others. In addition, many have been voted outstanding flight attendants along with other merits and recognitions.
In addition, EL AL's head chef, Moshe Segev, developed a one-of-a-kind menu highlighting Mediterranean dishes created from the finest Israeli products. During the flight, a video highlighting this historic visit of Pope Francis produced by Israel's Channel 2 was screened for their entertainment.
EL AL President, David Maimon, presented Pope Francis with two significant gifts including a selected piece of art created by internationally acclaimed Israeli artist Yaacov Agam entitled, "Faith-Visual Pray.” The artwork integrates symbols of Judaism including the Star of David and the Menorah, which not only symbolizes the Holy Temple of Jerusalem but also the light of the seven churches of Christianity. Maimon also presented Pope Francis with a published book of greetings and messages collected on social media from EL AL passengers around the world.
Lastly, all passengers received a bottle of wine from the Altitude 720 series from Barkan Winery that was affixed with a souvenir label with the date and flight number of this historic voyage. The Altitude 720 series has won prestigious awards for its 2009 vintage including the Double Gold and Best Kosher wine and the medal for Best Wine in its Price Category at the International Terra Vino Competition.
With the completion of this historic visit, the Israeli airline is encouraged that there will be a renewed desire for Catholics to visit the Holy Land. It was nearly 66 years ago when the decision was made to establish a national airline, and in search of an appropriate name they turned to the Bible for inspiration and chose “EL AL,” which was taken from the book of Hoseah, signifying to the most high.
|(L-R) President Shimon Peres, Pope Francis and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo credit: Sivan Farag
|EL AL Israel Airlines in-flight crew that served the historic flight. Photo credit: Sivan Farag|