Three top Airbus executives of different nationalities have been recognized with the France Légion d’Honneur decoration this month – underscoring the contributions of the company’s international team to the aerospace industry.
The recognition was presented to Tom Williams, Airbus’ Chief Operating Office; Harald Wilhelm, Chief Financial Officer for Airbus and its Airbus Group parent company; and Fernando Alonso, former head of Airbus Flight Operations, who is currently Head of Airbus Defence and Space’s Military Aircraft Division.
The executives were all appointed to the rank of Knight (Chevalier) – one of five that make up the National Order of the Legion of Honour – during a ceremony Toulouse, France that was attended by their colleagues, family and friends.
Amidst the backdrop of Airbus’ no. 1 A380 – appropriately lit in the colours of the French Tricolore flag – the event was hosted by Louis Gallois, Former CEO of Airbus Group’s EADS predecessor, with current Airbus Group Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders also participating. Gallois said the honourees represented “the best of Airbus and Europe,” while Enders cited the prestigious Légion d’Honneur’s reputation for recognizing individual merit, irrespective of origin, gender or belief – calling the three executives “outstanding role models” for leadership and internationalism.
Hailing from three of Airbus’ “home” countries in Europe, the Airbus executives presented with the Légion d’Honneur spoke of their pride in their colleagues’ dedication and passion to drive Airbus forward. “Aeronautics is a fabulous industry, touching the leading edge of every branch of science and technology,” said Williams, who is from Glasgow, Scotland in the UK. “Every day I work with people who teach me something new.”
“In the spirit of recognition that the Légion d’Honneur promotes, I am accepting this decoration on behalf of all the finance team, to thank them all for their commitment,” added Wilhelm, who was born in Munich, Germany.
Alonso – a Spaniard who participated in test flight operations for every Airbus aircraft from the A310 to the new-generation A350 XWB jetliner – explained: “I have been privileged to work with some incredible people during my Airbus career, including my heroes.”
Created to recognize outstanding merit, the Légion d’Honneur is bestowed on distinguished individuals from civilian and military professions for their contributions to French life and for espousing the country’s Republican values.