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Etihad Airways flies pope to Vatican after UAE visit

Etihad Airways flies pope to Vatican after UAE visit

Etihad Airways has flown pope Francis home after a historic three-day visit to the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi.

The trip made history as the first ever visit of a pontiff to the Gulf region.

Leaving on an Etihad Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the pope sought to leave behind a legacy of tolerance and peace.

During his visit, the pontiff joined Ahmed Al Tayeb, grand imam of Al Azhar and chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders for the Human Fraternity conference, a meeting of some of the world’s most prominent religious leaders with the aim of charting a path for global peace.

The crew who flew the Pope home were comprised of 15 different nationalities, representing the cultural diversity at the heart of the Etihad Aviation Group.


Captain Abdulla Obaid, an Emirati pilot with more than 20 years of flying experience led the flight crew.

He said: “I am very proud and thankful to have flown pope Francis to Rome and to be the first Emirati pilot ever to fly the pope.

“Our country’s leadership are directing us in the way of tolerance and making this country a peaceful country where people of all cultures can come together.”

The flight crew completed an extensive preparation process for the special flight, including several operational planning meetings and team briefing sessions as well as bespoke simulator training sessions.

The aircraft door was specially adorned with the Vatican’s emblem and special headrests, emblazoned with the Vatican insignia were installed on the aircraft in preparation for the flight.

During his visit, the pontiff performed mass for a congregation of approximately 130,000 people at Zayed Sports City Stadium.

The service was broadcast live across the in-flight entertainment systems of Etihad’s fleet as the aircraft transported guests across the globe on Tuesday.

The airline’s lounges also broadcast the pope’s historical ceremony.

More Information

Take a look at a series of shots from the trip here.