As Pope Francis’ “Shepherd One” jet flew over Uganda yesterday, the Pope took it upon himself to send greetings to the president of Uganda and Ugandans at large.
The message read, “As I overfly Uganda on my way to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, I send greetings to your Excellency and your fellow citizens the assurance of my prayers for peace and harmony.”
However, the Pope’s messages are not a new thing to the protocols and practices of the Pontiff while overflying countries in his trips.
Popes, just like other heads of state are known to travel a lot.
When it comes to the pope, certain practices and protocols are observed.
The Vatican City doesn’t have a papal plane. It relies on a chartered plane provided by Alitalia, the flag carrier and national airline of Italy.
It serves as the Pope’s official transportation from Rome to other parts of Italy. The chartered jet provided the Pope is a normal plane usually set aside from the airlines normal operations.
The Alitalia plane that carries the Pope is commonly referred to as “Shepherd One.”
When the Pope leaves a country, the protocol is that he should ride a plane from that country’s flagship airline.
If a country the Pope visits doesn’t have an airline that would meet the Vatican standards in terms of security, size and other concerns, he will still ride the Alitalia plane.
A practice being observed by Popes when travelling is to send telegram greetings to heads of state or governments of countries they fly over.