Aarsena Air Company in Egypt launched Friday airlifts between Egypt and Israel to transfer hundreds of Egyptian Coptic pilgrims to Christian landmarks in Jerusalem for the first time. The move comes in the wake of the death of Pope Shenouda III, who banned pilgrimages to Jerusalem due to the Israeli occupation.
The airlift is the first of its kind to transport Egyptians to Israel since the signing of the peace treaty between the two countries in 1979. One or two flights will depart daily on an aircraft with 104 seats, said Cairo International Airport officials.
The sources added that two flights bound for Jerusalem left Friday carrying 104 passengers each and that no obstacles faced them.
The Coptic passengers are scheduled to spend several days sightseeing at Christian landmarks in Jerusalem, in the context of celebrating Easter on 15 April.
Pope Shenouda III banned Coptic travel to the city of Jerusalem, and said more than once: “The Copts will not travel to Jerusalem, except in the company of their fellow Muslims.”