Transport: aviation in Canada

Bennett Jones LLP

Bennett Jones LLP has a specialist aviation practice, which is sought after by major airlines and aircraft operators to advise on the full suite of financing, leasing, acquisition and regulatory matters. Calgary-based Patrick Brennan, who co-heads the national financial services department, is widely recognized as a leading expert in the area. Toronto-based Ian Michael is also noted for his activity in the airport infrastructure space.

Practice head(s):

Patrick Brennan

Other key lawyers:

Ian Michael


An excellent team with key strength in structuring and execution of lending and associated security agreements for business aircraft. The group draws on strong support and excellent inter-disciplinary resources from the firm partnership to support speciality areas typically associated with private aircraft ownership.’

Excellent speed and turnaround in comparison to other firms, which results in lower overall transaction execution costs to the aircraft owner.’

Superb post-transaction support for the inevitable questions that come up at re-financing, or when the owner has a requirement to amend either their ownership structure or financing arrangement.’

Very practical team with the ability to differentiate well between the “nice to haves” and the “need to haves” in order to keep transactions moving along smoothly.’

Patrick Brennan and his associates have developed such a strong expertise in aviation and associated lending for commercial and business aircraft that, combined with a transparent and structured approach, we obtain a clean and predictable transaction every time.’

Key clients

Air North

Airside Aviation

Alberta Treasury Branches

Canadian Aviation Infrastructure Consortia, including:

Calgary Fuel Facilities Corporation Ltd.

Edmonton Fuel Facilities Corporation

Halifax International Fuel Facilities Corporation

Hamilton Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation

Kelowna Glycol Facilities Corporation

Montreal International Fuel Facilities Corporation

Ottawa International Fuel Facilities Corporation (and Ottawa

International De-icing Facilities Corporation)

Pearson International Fuel Facilities Corporation

St. John’s Fuel Facilities Corporation

Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation

Winnipeg International Fuel Facilities Corporation

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

Canadian North Inc.

Chorus Aviation Capital Corp.

Chorus Aviation Inc.

Chorus Aviation Capital (Ireland) Limited

General Bank of Canada

Jazz Aviation LP

Voyageur Aviation Corp.

Work highlights

  • Advised Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation in a C$115m bond offering.
  • Advised Chorus Aviation Capital (Ireland) on an agreement to purchase four new ATR72-600 aircraft and lease them to the Lion Air Group in Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • Acted for Montreal International Fuel Facilities Corporation on the Montreal East Jet Fuel Marine Terminal Project.

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP’s standalone aviation offering has strengths across all key pillars of aviation law, with specialist skill sets in finance, regulation, insurance and tax. It can also draw upon the wider firm’s full-service offering for support on large transactions. The team is led in Toronto by finance specialist Donald Gray, and also includes up-and-coming aviation partner Jason MacIntyre.

Practice head(s):

Donald Gray

Other key lawyers:

Jason MacIntyre

Key clients

Aergo Capital Limited

Aviation Working Group


The Boeing Company

Credit Suisse

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise

Elix Aviation Capital

GE Capital Aviation Services (Ireland and U.S.)

Morgan Stanley

PNC Aviation Finance (US)

Work highlights

  • Appointed as lead international counsel to the Aviation Working Group, an international organization made up of the leading aircraft and engine manufacturers, lessors and financiers.
  • Advised GE Capital Aviation Services (Ireland and US) on all Canadian aircraft and engine leasing, financing and sales matters in Canada.
  • Advised Avolon on several recent matters, including on the refinancing of six aircraft on lease to various Canadian operators.

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP’s aviation offering forms a key part of its highly regarded Canadian transportation practice, which is particularly prominent in regulatory matters. The group, which routinely acts for national carriers such as Air Canada and Qantas, is also well versed in aircraft acquisitions, leasing and financing. Calgary-based Laura Safran QC heads the aviation group, while Toronto-based regulatory expert Catherine Pawluch co-leads the wider transportation group. Toronto’s Andrew McFarlane, who focuses on aircraft and equipment financing, is also recommended.

Other key lawyers:

Andrew McFarlane

Key clients

Delta Airlines

Air Canada

Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft (“Lufthansa”)

WestJet Pilots Association

Avianca; Avianca LASCA; Avianca TACA

International Air Transport Association

Qantas Airlines

Hi Fly Transportes Aereos S.A.

Canadian Helicopters Corp (CHC)

Honeywell ASCA Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised El Al Israel Airlines on Canadian regulatory issues concerning tariff updates, Canadian rules on denied boarding, flight delays and other issues.
  • Advised Kenya Airways on Canadian licensing, certification, tariffs and related regulatory issues.
  • Advised Cameco on all matters concerning its aircraft fleet and aircraft leasing, maintenance issues and regulatory matters.

Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP

Aviation law is a key pillar of Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP’s firm-wide offering, housing a capable aviation practice covering the full range of regulatory, litigious and commercial matters. Founding partner Carlos Martins acts for an impressive range of air operators, including domestic and international air carriers, on regulatory issues. Litigator Tae Mee Park is recommended for her specialist focus on contentious aviation matters.

Practice head(s):

Carlos Martins

Other key lawyers:

Tae Mee Park

Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP

Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP fields a compact but effective aviation group, which advises on a wide range of corporate, finance and regulatory matters. Spearheaded by impressive up-and-coming partner Colby Dewart, the group counts airlines, aircraft owners, manufacturers, purchasers and lessors among its key clients.

Practice head(s):

Colby Dewart

Gowling WLG

Acting for airlines, manufacturers, investors, and banks, Gowling WLG strikes a balance between transactional and contentious work, with a strong recent showing in the aviation finance space. In addition, the team regularly advises regulatory issues, aircraft sales and acquisitions, leasing arrangements and operational matters. Montreal-based Marie-France Béland, who focuses on aviation finance, heads the department.

Practice head(s):

Marie-France Béland


A large global firm, yet the partners are very accessible and responsive, so you feel like you are dealing with our own internal legal team.’

Strong expertise, with hands-on and responsive lawyers. The group has a very professional, non-confrontational approach during dealings with other parties.’

David Kierans and Marie-France Beland and super-knowledgeable, highly-available and always exude confidence and mastery. Both are also great at finding the acceptable middle ground needed to complete a deal.

Key clients

Export Development Canada

Bombardier Inc

Westjet Airlines

United Airlines


Air Canada

CIBC World Market

Delta Airlines

CAE Inc.

ECN Aviation

Gulfstream Aerospace

Menzies Aviation

Work highlights

  • Advised Bombardier on the $300m sale of its Q Series Aircraft Program to an affiliate of Longview Aviation Capital.
  • Acted as Canadian counsel to the lender, Siemens Financial, in the sub-lease of an FAA-registered Leonardo helicopter to an offshore oil field operator.
  • Represented Delta Airlines in defending two class actions concerning an alleged conspiracy in the airline industry with respect to fuel surcharges.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright’s aviation practice has its largest on-the-ground presence in Quebec and enjoys a strong relationship with Montreal-based manufacturing giant, Bombardier. The team advises on a wide range of industry-specific issues, and is adept at handling corporate and finance transactions in the aviation space. Key contacts include corporate and securities partner Paul Raymond and transportation head Alain Ricard, both of whom are based in Montreal.

Practice head(s):

Paul Raymond; Alain Ricard

Key clients



WestJet Airlines

CHC Helicopter Inc

Bell Helicopter Textron

Air Transat

Aéroports de Montreal

Air Canada

Air Nunavut

Pratt & Whitney

Héroux-Devtek Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised Bombardier on its agreement with Airbus and Investissement Québec regarding the acquisition by Airbus of a majority interest in C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership, the entity that manufactures and sells C Series aircraft.
  • Advised Bombardier on a significant equity offering.
  • Advised CAE USA Mission Solutions on its acquisition of Alpha-Omega Change Engineering.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s aviation practice is perhaps best known in the contentious space, though the team also advises on finance and corporate transactions. Vancouver-based litigator Leon Beukman heads the aviation focus group and has a strong record in representing airlines, operators and manufacturers in product liability and contractual claims.

Practice head(s):

Leon Beukman

Work highlights

  • Advised the Island Air Flight School in defending allegations of negligent instructions to the pilot, following a double fatality aircraft incident.
  • Defended a pilot against claims forwarded on behalf of deceased passengers in regard to the pilot’s response to engine failure.


Dentons’ increasingly prominent practice group stands out for its client relationships with China-based airlines, including China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines. Toronto-based counsel Carlo Vairo, whose practice spans aircraft finance, leasing and acquisitions, is recommended.

Practice head(s):

Robert Quon; Carlo Vairo


We were very impressed with the diligence of the legal team at Dentons. They took the time to listen to every facet of our business and developed a comprehensive legal strategy to match our corporate ambitions.’

‘Dentons Canada is able to pull resident experts from tax or different provinces to opine in real time on issues as they arise in the context of a transaction.’

Carlo Vairo is my go-to for any Canadian issues. Regardless of any other obligations Carlo may be balancing at any given time, he always makes himself available to assist, even on incredibly tight timelines with short notice.’

Key clients

China Southern Airlines

Sichuan Airlines Co., Ltd.

China Eastern Airlines

China Airlines

Vx Capital Partners

Xiamen Airlines


Fasken houses a robust disputes practice that represents airlines, leasing companies and other aviation service providers in complex claims, including class actions. The group also teams up with its market-leading employment practice to provide industry-specific labour and employment advice. Vancouver-based litigator Michael Parrish is noted for his expertise in aviation and product liability cases. Former group head Martin Sheehan was appointed Judge of the Superior Court of Quebec

Key clients

Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Airbus Group

Airbus Helicopters

Boeing Company

Gate Gourmet

Marsh Canada Limited

Turbomeca SA

Piper Aircraft, Inc.

Federal Employers- Transportation and Communication (FETCO)

Work highlights

  • Represented AIG, Piper Aircraft and Aviation Unlimited in a product liability case.
  • Advised Gate Gourmet on labour, employment, human rights and health and safety matters.

Stikeman Elliott LLP

Stikeman Elliott LLP’s aviation practice is particularly prominent in contentious matters, where it is a popular choice for domestic and cross-border commercial disputes, product liability claims and class actions. The firm’s corporate and finance groups also have experience in advising aviation industry clients on a variety of transactions. Montreal-based litigator Pierre-Paul Daunais is the key contact and regularly advises aircraft manufacturers and insurance companies on complex cases.