CATHOLICS who fly with Easyjet will be excommunicated and face eternity in the fires of damnation, Pope Benedict XVI has warned.
The Pontiff said most budget airlines were "awash with sin" but singled out the Luton-based no-frills carrier as "diabolical" and run by a man whose long foreign name is an anagram of "I join to anal houses".
Church officials in Rome said the Pope's statement was 'in no way connected' to the launch of the Vatican's own airline.
The new company will fly between Rome, Lourdes and the Shrine of Fatima in Portugal, though the Vatican hopes to expand quickly with long haul services to Hong Kong, Dubai and Las Vegas.
A Vatican spokesman said: "The fleet of brand new Boeing 737s will be staffed by some of the Church's most attractive nuns.
"However, we are most uncomfortable with the idea of two men sitting alone together in a 'cock-pit'
and therefore the pilots will be accompanied by a priest in order to prevent unspeakable fleshy indulgences."
In his weekly message to the faithful in St Peter's Square, the Pope said: "Flying brings us closer to the Almighty, but not if you fly with Easyjet. Merely looking at their website is a pact with Satan.
"When choosing a short-haul carrier, one must listen to one's heart. If you are sincere in your adoration of the Holy Mother then perhaps your heart will tell you to fly with VaticanAir – who, by the way, will not charge you £2.50 for a tiny little tub of Pringles."