The Coptic Orthodox Church reiterated its travel ban on worshipers seeking to visit Christian holy sites in Israel during Easter, Egyptian newspaper Al-Shorouk reported Friday, despite an Egyptian airline launching airlifts to Israel for the first time since the passing of the late Pope Shenouda III.
The church warned "religious and spiritual" penalties for Coptic worshipers that visited Jerusalem, according to the Egyptian newspaper.
Despite the warning, DPA reported that Aarsena Air Company has launched its first Egypt-Israel direct route to accommodate the hundreds of Coptic Christians desiring to visit Christian landmarks in Jerusalem.
Each daily flight can seat 104 people flying from the Cairo International airport. The first flights took off from Cairo on Friday, DPA reported according to a source at the airport.
Pope Shenouda III, who passed away March 17 of this year, threatened excommunication for those worshipers who traveled to Israel, saying that pilgrimage is not a duty in Christianity.