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Etienne Dailly Bestowed of the insignia of Officer of the National Order of Merit

Publié le July 3, 2012
Speech by Ambassador François Delattre
Residence of France, July 2, 2012

Cher Etienne Dailly,
Chère Madame Dailly,
Monsieur le Directeur Général,
Cher Patrick Roux,
Dear Guests,

C’est un immense plaisir pour Thierry Buttin, pour mon équipe et pour moi de vous accueillir ce soir à la Résidence de France pour cette cérémonie en l’honneur d’Etienne Dailly, un grand Monsieur, un magnifique représentant d’Air France KLM, un vrai ami de l’Amérique – et, si vous me le permettez Cher Etienne, un ami personnel depuis d’assez longues années déjà.

I will now switch to English to tell you that it is a great pleasure and honor to welcome you here today to our Residence on this very special occasion. We are gathered here to pay tribute to our friend Etienne Dailly, an exceptional individual, an outstanding representative for Air France KLM and a great friend of America.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to Etienne’s family, friends, colleagues and partners who have joined us tonight to show their support and admiration.

With a special word of welcome and thanks to the members of your family: your wife Betty, to whom I would also like to pay tribute tonight, and your children Etienne and Aymeri. They all deserve I believe a lot of credit given the very demanding nature of your work. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to the whole team of Air France KLM, which is so well represented tonight.

May I acknowledge in particular Patrick Roux, Senior Vice-President of Air France KLM for the Americas. And I know that Mark Masclet has come especially from San Francisco to be with us this evening.

Mon cher Etienne, you’ve been part of the Air France family - and then the Air France KLM family - for the past 45 years. You moved up step by step before rising to the position you hold today.

It is a particularly pleasant experience for me to go through your career because it allows us to do, in a short time, a real “tour du monde”.

Indeed, after having started your career in the mythic Parisian airport of Orly, with numerous travels abroad, in particular in Asia, you were posted successively in Tokyo, Japan; Qatar, Doha; then served as station manager, in Dakar in Africa, Sweden, Goteborg and Honk-Kong. You brought back from this world tour an incredible experience.
And above all it paved the way for meeting your wife, whom I am so pleased to welcome this evening with Etienne and Aymeri. After all these years, you succeeded in finally coming back to the country of your birth and settled in Washington in 1993. You are certainly the most knowledgeable person with respect to all that counts in Washington DC, with respect to the French community as well as on French VIPS. I don’t even dare mention the number of French Ambassadors you’ve met in that position!

You are a wonderful Ambassador for Air France KLM and you participate in advocating French excellence in flight all over the world. Flying wouldn’t be possible without an efficient ground staff, and the level of service in airports must be at its highest if we want to maintain the reputation of our national airline. I would therefore like to make a special tribute to your staff present here, in particular your deputy Salil Chadla, who helps you deliver this top-level of quality day after day.

As we all know, not only is aviation a major part of the economy, but by allowing people to travel between France and the United States, and managing a station of the US capital, you are an essential link between our two countries.

In this respect, I would like to commend your exemplary collaboration with the French Embassy and the Washington Consulate. Along all these years your help has been invaluable, especially during tough times. To take just one example, we all know about your terrific leadership at Dulles airport when the Icelandic volcano literally stopped traffic between Europe and the United States for several days!

Beyond your unmatched professionalism, you put all your heart, soul and energy in helping every situation: from individual situations to high scale operations. To give the audience just one illustration of this, you have twice now been essential in managing the travel of World War 2 American veterans to Normandy for decoration ceremonies. We will – and more importantly they will – never forget your personal commitment to helping these veterans. And I could multiply those examples over the past 19 years.

Lastly, I know you are a key player in the Dulles International Airport community, as the attendance here tonight testifies – and I’d like to acknowledge Christopher Browne, Airport manager at Washington Dulles International Airport, and Mike Stewart, Manager at the airport administration. You have been fully involved in various airport committees. And you still find time to be both the treasurer of the Station managers of Dulles and the Vice-President of the American Association of the National Order of Merit in Washington.

Last but not least your professionalism and open mindedness are why all your colleagues, even those who work for your competitors, hold you in such a high esteem.

Dear friends, the National Order of Merit was created by General Charles de Gaulle in 1963 to reward distinguished achievements rendered to France, based on a personal decision by the President of the French Republic. It is one of the France’s highest distinctions.

So today, Cher Etienne, in recognition of your exemplary commitment to promote French interests worldwide as well as French-American cooperation and friendship, it is my privilege, on behalf of the President of the French Republic, to bestow upon you the insignia of Officer of the National Order of Merit – the rank of Officer being quite exceptional.

Etienne Dailly, au nom du Président de la République, et en vertu des pouvoirs qui nous sont conférés, nous vous faisons Officier de l’Ordre National du Mérite./.

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