Air Malta: Pope Will Return to Rome Sunday

Dashes Hopes of Maltese Prime Minister

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LUQA, Malta, APRIL 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Air Malta dashed the hopes of the country’s prime minister, who expressed his wish that the large cloud of volcanic ash hovering over Europe would necessarily keep Benedict XVI in the country at least one more day.

The Maltese airline confirmed today that the flight taking the Pope back to Rome on Sunday will operate as scheduled.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi joked this evening upon greeting the Holy Father that he hoped the ash cloud would delay his departure, reported the Times of Malta. The comment was made during a private meeting at the Palace in Valletta.

The Pontiff’s chartered Alitalia flight to Malta today was one of only a few to depart from Rome, as the large ash cloud from the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajoekull volcano began to drift into Italy.

Since Wednesday, air space in Northern and Central Europe has been closed or severely restricted due to the cloud.

During the Pope’s flight to Malta, he quipped that he hoped «for a good trip, but without this dark cloud that is hanging over parts of Europe.»

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