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Belgians not flocking to Pope’s funeral

Published on 05/04/2005

5 April 2005

BRUSSELS – Belgians are not heading to Rome in large numbers for the Pope’s funeral, it emerged on Tuesday.

Although Belgium is a largely Catholic country, airlines, travel agencies and bus companies have not reported a boom in bookings to make the pilgrimage to Italy.

On Monday, SN Brussels Airlines announced it would apply to the Italian airport authorities to try to lay on extra flights.

Spokesman Geert Sciot stated that all morning flights before Friday’s funeral were booked.

“We have had a lot of last-minute requests from people after the death of the Pope,” he said.

The following day, Sciot stated the airline – which runs six flights a day to Rome with Alitalia – was awaiting a response to its request to lay on extra flights.

However, Virgin, which also flies to Rome, said it hadn’t noticed any increase in demand since the death of the Pope.

Jetair and Thomas Cook also stated they hadn’t recorded any increase in demand for trips to Rome.

“The believers who are currently going to Rome are doing it as pilgrims and not as tourists,” said Jetair’s marketing manager Dirk Van Holsbeke.

The bus company Eurolines said it had not seen sales boom.

Only its Antwerp office had seen a slight increase in booking enquiries, said the firm.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news