MIAMI— American Airlines (and previously TWA) has the honor for the seventh time of transporting Pope Francis from Washington D.C. to New York City, Philadelphia and back to Rome.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops chartered the airliner to American Airlines to carry the Pointiff to the different destinations in the U.S. The aircraft selected is a Boeing 777-200ER (Registration N776AN / MSN 29582 / LN 215) to carry the pontiff.
The Vatican City State does not have a specific airplane designated for the Pope, neither operates a special jet specifically earmarked for the Pope. Instead, often relies on Italy’s flag carrier Alitalia, which takes an aircraft out of its normal passenger operations schedule for this purpose. The selected aircraft is not the airline’s refurbished AA 777-200 with the updated Zodiac based Business Cabin. The flip-side is the aircraft does offer the 2006 era Flagship Suites First Class Seats Cabin. Once concluding the journey, the aircraft returns to its normal operations.
The Pope’s flight is often nicknamed Shepherd One by the media, while the actual callsign is Volo Papale (papal flight in Italian), followed by a flight number.
According to American Airlines, employees often cite the papal flight as a career highlight. The airline selected the crew of Shepherd One from different locations (including Miami, Dallas / Ft. Worth, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Tulsa and Raleigh / Durham), representing different faiths and persuasions.
Pope Francis is the fourth pope to visit the United States. The first was Pope Paul VI, who visited United Nations Headquarters in New York on October 4, 1965, 50 years ago, while the Pope who logged more visits to the U.S. was John Paul II with seven times. According to American Airlines, this is the 7th time the company (including TWA) has served the Pope.
We’re honored to fly Pope Francis (@Pontifex) on Shepherd One during his US tour. #PopeInUS pic.twitter.com/ly1M3bk1pd
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) September 25, 2015