Air France A380 inaugural flight to Washington Dulles
M. le Député,
M. l’Ambassadeur de France,
M. le Président,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my honor and pleasure, with Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, President and CEO of Air France, to welcome you to the Residence for this very special occasion.
We have gathered here tonight to celebrate the arrival earlier today, at Washington-Dulles airport, of Air France’s inaugural flight of the Airbus A380 superjumbo aircraft.
From now on, the Air France A380 will serve this city, in addition to New York, from Paris on a daily basis.
I am particularly delighted to welcome and congratulate Air France President and CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon.
Cher Président, your presence here this evening means a lot to all of us. With you and through you, may I also express my warmest congratulations to your superb team at Air France.
It is also a privilege to welcome Deputy Jean-Claude Fruteau, member of the French National Assembly, as well as Ambassador Jean-David Levitte and Mme Marie-Cécile Levitte.
Jean-David Levitte, who was Ambassador to the United States a few years ago, is now the diplomatic adviser to President Sarkozy and he and his wife still have so many friends all over this country.
President Gourgeon will give you an overview of the strategic asset that the A380 is for Air France KLM and its partner Delta Airlines.
Here I would like to only and briefly underline three points :
First : Under the leadership of Airbus, the A380 represents the center of excellence of the aerospace industry. Many technical achievements arising from several European states, as well as many American manufacturers, make the A380 an accomplishment that Europe and the US may be proud of.
Second : the A380 is particularly friendly to the environment.
As our respective countries debate the best ways to go about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, the Airbus A380 is a wonderful example of a technological solution by carrying more people with less energy.
It produces 20% less gas emissions and consumes 20% less fuel than its closest Airbus predecessor, the A330.
It is also the quietest aircraft in its category and all passengers are amazed at the silence of the cabin during the flight. This is also extremely positive of course for the local communities around airports.
Third : this inaugural flight is also an opportunity to acknowledge the exemplary cooperation between the United States and its European partners that has made the A380 possible.
Beyond politics, preparations for the safe operation of such a large aircraft in this country have been supported by the FAA and all the airports that are now being served by the A380. I know other airports in the US are also preparing for its arrival.
And may I add that the welcome at Washington-Dulles airport has been absolutely outstanding.
For that, we warmly thank the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and all its partners, United States Customs and Border Protection – and of course Air France’s own local ground staff.
This cooperation is also true for operations: I want to tell Delta Airlines, the partner of Air France-KLM on the transatlantic routes, how delighted we are that their customers have the opportunity to fly on the A380 between DC and Paris. And maybe one day Delta will include the A380 in its own fleet!
This event could not come at a better time to illustrate the partnership between our two countries.
In this respect I have good news tonight. French-American relations have never been closer than today.
Our two countries are fighting together in the skies of Libya and the mountains of Afghanistan. They are each other’s closest ally in the fight against terrorism. They are in the forefront of international efforts to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapons state. And as France is chairing both the G8 and the G20, our two nations are working very closely together to support the democratic movements in the Arab world and to reduce global macro-economic imbalances, to give you just a few examples.
Let me conclude on this positive note, and please join me in welcoming President Pierre-Henri Gourgeon./.