The Pope Needs a New Airline!

A WVIP Commentary
By William O’Shaughnessy
October 14 2021


Pope Francis is going to have to rely on another official papal airline. Fabled Italian carrier Alitalia, once the favorite of the jet set and the La Dolce Vita crowd, is giving up its fleet of 52 jets.

I once flew the proud Italian national carrier from Paris down to Venice after having crossed the ocean via American Airlines. This was before Delta had a direct flight to La Serenissima.

I wasn’t too happy about having to change planes. But when I saw the assault tanks roaming Charles De Gaulle Airport, I was glad to climb on board our beckoning Alitalia flight.

As I recall, it had all been arranged by Gergdorf Goodman as a “Reward” to its best customers, one of which I was once married to.

As we boarded, the Alitalia jet, we were greeted warmly by a “Captain Maurizio,” a very handsom guy with a dashing white scarf thrown nonchalantly around his neck.

As soon as the Alitalia engines revved up, Captain Maurizio made an announcement: “Scusa … scusa … I’d-a like-a to apologize-a to our dear and valuable passengers. This Charles De Gaulle Airport is, as usual, ‘chaotic-a’. But don’t-a worry, please-a, I beg-a you, as soon as we get up there … I fly fast!”

And he did!

As soon as we got down to Venice and could see a brief opening in the clouds at about the very same time Captain Maurizio did … we held our breath as he steered the big Alitalia jet down through the opening in the cloud cover. Forget the glide path. Maurizio is at the controls!

After our exciting ride with Alitalia, we were glad to climb aboard the waiting Cipriani launch for a beautiful mid-morning ride with the sea spray in our faces as our speedboat raced across the lagoon to the beautiful oasis that is the Hotel Cipriani on the Giudecca.

But, Holy Father … I don’t know who is going to replace Captain Maurizio…


William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, the national charitable organization.  He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent stations in the New York area, for over 60 years as president and editorial director.

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He has also written “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo. His newest book RADIOactive for Fordham University Press, another anthology with interviews, commentaries, speeches and tributes was published in 2019. He is presently working on Townies, a paean to those without wealth, influence or high estate in suburban Westchester County, the heart of the Eastern Establishment.