Vatican City, 22 July 2013 (VIS) – Fiumicino Airport, Rome, 8.53 a.m.: the Alitalia Airbus A330 carrying the Pope departed punctually for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where it is scheduled to land in Galeao Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport at 4.00 p.m. local time, 9.00 p.m. Italian time. The Argentine Pope's first apostolic trip has begun.
Francis travelled carrying his hand luggage, and stood in line waiting to embark alongside the other passengers, accredited journalists and other prelates. The flight is expected to last twelve hours and the aeroplane will fly over Italy, Algeria, Mauritania and Senegal before arriving in the Brazilian capital where multitudes of young people are already awaiting the Pope. Shortly before departing he tweeted: “I am arriving in Brazil in a few hours and my heart is already full of joy because soon I will be with you to celebrate the 28th WYD”. The message has been disseminated to over seven million users who follow the @Pontifex account.