Transport: aviation in Australia

HWL Ebsworth

HWL Ebsworth provides its client base of international and domestic airlines, airports, regional and GA operators, aviation service providers and insurers with a full, market leading service. Airport clients are supported on all relevant regulatory regimes in addition to business and operation matters while airlines are assisted with claims handling, recovery actions, disputes, emergency response and investigation matters, among others. Sydney-based Richard Davis represents almost every capital city airport in Australia, recently advising Newcastle Airport on its expansion and Sydney Airport on its agreement with APN Outdoor. He is considered a star name for the full range of commercial, operate, operational and regulatory issues and is highly recommended alongside Simon Liddy whose expertise lies in large-scale accidents involving multiple claimants and high-value property damage. Senior associate Kristin Hibbard is developing a reputation for her expertise in passenger and third party claims, standard terms and conditions advice and commercial contracts.  

Practice head(s):

Joe Hurley; Simon Liddy

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Brooks; Kristin Hibbard

Key clients

Cathay Pacific Airways

International Aviation Insurance Market

Qantas Airlines

Air New Zealand

Virgin Australia

Tiger Air

Singapore Airlines

Qatar Air Lines

Japan Air Lines

Cobham Aviation Services


Sydney Airport

Melbourne Airport

Newcastle Airport

Ayes Rock Airport

Brisbane Airport

Hobart Airport

Broome Airport

Perth Airport

Western Sydney Airport

Wellcamp (Toowoomba) Airport

Work highlights

  • Advised on the significant expansion of Newcastle Airport, including on Airport developments, and the acquisition of 70 hectares of adjacent greenfield land for expansion of aeronautical and non-aeronautical activities and the creation of the “Greater Newcastle Aerotropolis”.
  • Advised on the significant expansion of Newcastle Airport ‘s existing facilities for the airport’s first international service.
  • Advising on the negotiation and drafting of Sydney Airport agreement with APN Outdoor, including advertising assets across all terminals as well as billboards on the approach to the airport precinct.

Norton Rose Fulbright

At Norton Rose Fulbright, Tom Young delivers extensive understanding of the regulations governing the aviation and airport industries. He is particularly experienced in the protection of prescribed airspace, controlled activity requirements and airport privatisation and is also increasingly developing a reputation in the drone space. Based in Brisbane alongside Young is special counsel Julie Brown, an up and coming expert on the regulatory and real estate considerations of airport commercial partnerships and privatisations. A highlight from the recent caseload saw the team act for Qantas in relation to an opposition filed against its trade mark application for QANTAS ASSURE.

Practice head(s):

Ernest van Buuren; Tom Young

Other key lawyers:

Julie Brown

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Apollo Aviation Group

Air Niugini Limited  Port Hedland Port Authority

Air New Zealand

Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GMBH

Menzies Aviation (Australia) Pty Ltd

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited

Queensland Treasury Corporation

PNG Air Limited

Jandakot Airport Holdings Pty Ltd

Essendon Fields Pty Ltd

Essential Energy

Qantas Airways Limited

Perth Airport Pty Ltd

Flight Safety Foundation

Asterion (Australia) Pty Ltd

Hobart International Airport

Western Sydney Airport CO

Mary Street Queensland Development Pty Ltd

Australia Pacific Airports (Melbourne)

Brisbane International Airport

ORIX Aviation Systems Limited

Mizuho Bank

HSBC Bank plc

Jackson Square Aviation

Global Knafaim Leasing

The Export-Import Bank of China

Willis Lease Finance Corporation

M2M Bank Europe

Work highlights

  • Advising Qantas Airways in a dispute regarding potentially hazardous substance that can cause harm to the environment.
  • Advised Perth Airport Pty Ltd on the successful closing of its A$950m syndicated bank debt refinancing.
  • Assisted the Flight Safety Foundation Limited in its creation of a Basic Aviation Risk Standard to be primarily for the chartered air services sector.
  • Advised Hobart International Airport on all aspects of its project documentation for the upgrade of the airport’s departures hall.
  • Advising Mary Street Queensland Developments on a dispute regarding prescribed airspace.


Allens represents major airports including Perth, Sydney and Brisbane on corporate governance, competition, technology, privacy matters and major negotiations with international airlines. It also assists with infrastructure, construction and development matters in addition to employment, banking and procurement-related instructions. Airline finance, specifically in relation to the commercial, defence, private and government sectors is a further keystone of the practice which is headed by Emma Warren in Melbourne. She is well-versed in advising airports on their commercial agreements, particularly in relation to development and property rights.

Practice head(s):

Emma Warren;

Other key lawyers:

Renee Boundy; Fiona Crosbie;

Key clients

Australia Pacific Airports (Melbourne) Pty Ltd (APAM)

Perth Airport Pty Limited

Sydney Airport

Macquarie Bank Limited

Macquarie AirFinance Group Limited

CIT Aerospace International

Brisbane Airport

Work highlights

  • Providing legal and strategic advice separately to both Melbourne and Sydney Airports in relation to the Productivity Commission, and assisted in drafting submissions to the Commission.
  • Advising APAC and APAM in relation to APAC’s participation in the AirRail Melbourne consortium’s market-led proposal to the Victorian Government for the implementation of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.
  • Continuing to advise APAM in relation to the negotiation and operation of its aeronautical services agreements (ASAs) with airlines.
  • Advised APAM in relation to the negotiation with major airlines of its arrangements for Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 at Melbourne Airport.
  • Advised APAM on a range of privacy issues relevant to both its Melbourne Airport and Launceston Airport businesses.

Clayton Utz

Praised for its ‘great knowledge of the industry’, Clayton Utz is engaged for transport and infrastructure projects, regulatory matters and the full range of commercial agreements. The practice places heavy emphasis on the representation of government clients in respect of all relevant aviation matters and also acts for airports and private sector airport operators. Andrew Leece, distinguished via his ‘commercially focused and strategic approach’, heads the practice from Canberra and provides experience in insurance, security, property and IT, among other matters.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Leece

Other key lawyers:

James Kendal


‘The Clayton Utz team has great knowledge of the industry and is very commercially focussed in its approach.’

‘Andrew Leece stands out for his knowledge of the industry and commercially focused and strategic approach. He is also very approachable and easy to work with.’

Key clients

Airport clients including Avalon Airport, Brisbane Airport, Canberra Airport, Alice Springs Airport, Hobart Airport, Moorabbin Airport, Perth Airport and Northern Territory Airports

Commonwealth of Australia represented by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities

Roads and Maritime Services (NSW Government)

Department of Defence

Sunshine Coast Regional Council

Rail Projects Victoria

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Commonwealth on the strategic approach to the Western Sydney Airport transaction and relationship with Sydney Airport.
  • Advising a number of airport clients on a variety of agreements essential to the commercial operations of airports.
  • Advised both RMS and Transport for NSW in negotiations with Sydney Airport Corporation and the Commonwealth concerning the Gateway Project.
  • Advising Avalon Airport on all aspects of the introduction of international services with AirAsia X.
  • Providing airport clients with strategic advice and the drafting and negotiation of the full range of airport property agreements.

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP fields a ‘strong team that works well together’ and is best known for its knowledge and experience in drone-related matters, complex claims for both airlines and insurers, regulatory advice and commercial transactions. Practice head Maurice Thompson is a go-to name for aviation claims including catastrophic major loss, high-value personal injury and cargo-related matters, acting exclusively in Australia for Emirates and Qatar Airways on such matters. Senior associate Ankush Chauhan is based in Melbourne alongside Thompson and regularly assists him on the claims front.

Practice head(s):

Maurice Thompson

Other key lawyers:

Ankush Chauhan


‘A strong team that works well together’.

‘James Cooper is very diligent and knowledgeable’.

Key clients

Malaysia Airlines


Air India

Qatar Airways

Alpha Flight Services Pty Ltd

Atlas Air Inc

Work highlights

  • Working exclusively on all of Emirates’ attritional claims in Australia, including passenger injury, baggage loss / damage, and cargo claims.
  • Working exclusively on all of Qatar Airways’ attritional claims in Australia, including passenger injury, baggage loss / damage, and cargo claims.
  • Acting for Air India in response to a passenger claim alleging serious injuries sustained in the terminal at Sydney Airport and which is the subject of proceedings in NSW.
  • Acting for Alpha Flight Services  / Dnata on various complex workplace injury claims across Australia.
  • Continuing to act on behalf of Malaysia Airlines in defence of various next of kin claims brought in Australia.

King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons supports a client roster of aircraft leasing and management companies, prominent airlines and major airports on a broad array of complex affairs. Expertise encompasses competition and regulatory, corporate, commercial and M&A, airport and asset financing, infrastructure and construction, property and leasing matters in addition to planning and environment considerations. Dale Rayner oversees the department which also routinely represents domestic and international banks in relation to their activities in the aviation sector.

Practice head(s):

Dale Rayner

Key clients

Republic Airways

Qantas Airways Limited

Virgin Australia Airlines

Alliance Airlines

Air Niugini

Link PNG

China Southern Airlines Company Limited

Air New Zealand Limited

Merx Aviation

Dubai Aerospace


Stellar Aviation

GE Aviation Capital

Avolon Aerospace


SMBC Aviation Capital

CIT Aerospace


Goshawk Aviation Limited

Engine Lease Finance Corporation

Jet Engine Leasing

National Australia Bank

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group

Westpac Banking Corporation

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Bank of China

BNP Paribas




Royal Bank of Scotland


Transport for New South Wales

Zhejiang RIFA Holding Group Co. Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Transport for New South Wales in relation to the Western Sydney Airport Railway Infrastructure project, a multi-billion dollar project to deliver connectivity to Sydney’s proposed second international airport.
  • Acting for Air New Zealand Limited in relation to a ACCC cartel prosecution.
  • Instructed by Sydney Airport Corporation Limited to advise on the A$2.6bn Sydney Gateway project.
  • Acted for Queensland Airport Limited in relation to  its A$900m refinancing.
  • Acting for BNP Paribas and National Australia Bank  on a A$2bn master corporate loan note facility programme for Qantas Airways.

Mills Oakley

The expertise at Mills Oakley encompasses matters such as aircraft trading and financing, charter and aircraft operating agreements, regulatory compliance, tenders, airport-related infrastructure and development projects in addition to maintenance, calibration and fit-out agreements. The practice, headed by Brisbane-based Rechelle Brost and Gavin Douglas in Sydney, is also active on claims and disputes and is reputed for its expertise of fixed and rotary wing air operator and airline operations. Tom Lennox has left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Gavin Douglas; Rechelle Brost

Key clients

Qantas Airways Limited

Regional Express Holdings Ltd

Babcock Mission Critical Services Australasia Pty Ltd

Babcock Offshore Services Australasia Pty Ltd

Sydney Seaplanes Pty Ltd

Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia

Oil Search Limited

South Star Aviation Pty Ltd

Brisbane Airport Corporation

Archerfield Airport Corporation Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising BMCS in relation to the amendment and novation of the leasing arrangements for 2 x Bell model B412 helicopters.
  • Advising BOSA in relation to the refinancing by the Lessor of 4 x Sikorsky model S92 helicopters.
  • Advising Qantas on the contracting arrangements related to the launch of the Qantas Channel – being the platform by which Qantas will modernise the way agents book fares and deliver personalised experiences to customers.
  • Advising BOSA on the refinancing, amendment and novation of leasing arrangements in respect of2 x AW139 model helicopters.
  • Advising Brisbane Airport Corporation across all stages of construction of the $300m Auto Mall project.

Minter Ellison

Headed by Sydney-based Beverley Newbold, the aviation practice at Minter Ellison is particularly experienced in the regulation and operation of airports, leasing of airport land, procurement, construction and contract management and infrastructure in addition to airport upgrades. Newbold is a claims specialist while James Mok is another name to note, delivering a proven track record in aviation finance, aircraft sales and purchases and asset-based lending.

Practice head(s):

Beverley Newbold;

Other key lawyers:

Darren Sumich; James Mok; Russell Miller;

Key clients

Qantas Airways Limited

International Air Transport Association

Toll Group (as a logistics provider including air logistics)

Australian Airports including: Gold Coast Airport; Brisbane Airport; Townsville Airport; Western Australian Airport

Jetstar Group

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Airservices Australia

GECAS Australia Pty Ltd

Chorus Aviation Inc

Avolon Aerospace Leasing Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing Qantas in relation to aeronautical changes by Perth Airport.
  • Acting on a A$2bn flexible enhanced loan note facility programme for Qantas.
  • Acting for Avolon on the sale of A330 aircraft on lease to Virgin.
  • Acting for Qantas in connection with the sale of an A330 aircraft from Avolon to  Zephyrus Aviation Capital.
  • Acting for Aircastle in relation to leasing arrangements for an A320 aircraft on lease to Tiger Airways and novated to Virgin Australia Regional Airlines.

Colin Biggers & Paisley

The focus at Colin Biggers & Paisley is directed towards the aviation insurance field, specifically the drafting, amending and maintaining of policy wordings and claims resulting from cargo damage, personal injury and fatalities. Additional expertise include product liability, planning and environment, government and regulatory advice, health and safety and work place relations. Melbourne-based Andrew Tulloch heads the practice which represents airlines, aircraft and airport operators, regulators, cargo importers and exporters, governments and freight forwarders.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Tulloch

Other key lawyers:

Marcus Saw

Key clients

QBE Insurance

AIG Insurance

Chubb Insurance

Zurich Insurance

Work highlights

  • Acted for QBE Aviation and its insured, the Australia Sport Rotorcraft Association in relation to a compensation claim arising from personal injury suffered by the passenger of a gyrocopter piloted by one of ASRA’s members which crashed, resulting in the pilot’s death.
  • Acting for QBE Insurance in relation to the accident at Essendon Fields on 21 February 2017 when a Beechcraft B200 Super King Air with a pilot and four Texan passengers on board crashed shortly after take-off into a shopping complex killing all on board and leading to numerous claims.
  • Advising Chubb Insurance on rights of recovery against China Eastern Airlines in relation to damage to a consignment of rock lobsters carried from Melbourne to Shanghai.
  • Acted on behalf of the insurers of Havi GS Asia Pacific (S) and a related company in an action seeking recovery of loss and damage suffered when a substantial shipment of beef patties that were carried by air from Australia to Korea via Hong Kong apparently suffered temperature damage during transit.