Aviation in Canada

Bennett Jones LLP

Bennett Jones LLP is known for its deep knowledge of the aviation industry, offering broad corporate and litigation expertise to its clients. The team is well renowned for its transactional advice, advising service providers and airlines on aircraft sales, leasing, financing and debt restructuring needs. Recent work in the transactional space includes advising Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service on the c$120m replacement of its helicopter fleet. Litigation is another area of strength for the team, and it is particularly active in maintenance, damage and safety suits; the team also advises on foreign ownership laws. Patrick Brennan leads the team from Calgary and has a stellar reputation handling transactional matters.  Other key names include Toronto-based Ian Michael, who advises on M&A, and associate Noriko Shimura, who focuses on finance. Corporate lawyer Kenton Rein re-joined the firm from Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP.

Practice head(s):

Patrick Brennan

Other key lawyers:

Ian Michael; Noriko Shimura; Kenton Rein

Key clients

Flair Airlines Ltd.

ATB Financial

Canadian Aviation Infrastructure Consortia

Chorus Aviation Inc.

Chorus Aviation Capital (Ireland) Limited

General Bank of Canada

Jazz Aviation LP

Voyageur Aviation Corp.

Longview Aviation Capital Corp

Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service

Work highlights

  • Advising Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service on the replacement of its helicopter fleet.
  • Acted as counsel to Chorus in connection with the purchase, financing and leasing of nine CRJ900 regional jet aircraft.
  • Served as counsel to Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation on a new aviation fuel delivery project to Vancouver International Airport.

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP acts for a number of air carriers, leasing companies and financiers. The team’s transactional work is its core strength; it advises on financing, M&A, insurance, debt restructuring and procurement for high-profile clients. Recently, the firm has provided significant support to airlines on government air regulations in light of changes resulting from Covid-19. The team has seen an uptick in sale-leaseback transactions. Its regulatory arm focuses on assisting with certification from large regulatory boards, with a specialist advice on drones. The team is led out of Toronto by Donald Gray, Jason MacIntyre and Auriol Marasco. Marasco and MacIntyre lead the drones sub-group, while Gray provides financing expertise. Associate Jasmine Jin is also notable, supporting on structured financing and secured lending transactions in the aviation industry.

Other key lawyers:

Jasmine Jin

Key clients

Aviation Working Group

Avolon

CDB Leasing

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise

GE Capital Aviation Services

Jackson Square Aviation

Northfield Capital Corporation

PNC Bank Aviation Finance

The Boeing Company

WestJet Airlines

Work highlights

  • Acting as lead counsel to Jackson Square Aviation on the sale-leaseback of 3xB737MAX aircraft with Air Canada.
  • Acting as lead counsel for Avolon on the sale-leaseback of 6xB737MAX aircraft with Air Canada.
  • Acting as lead counsel for CDB Leasing on the sale-leaseback of 9xB737MAX aircraft with WestJet.

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP excels in regulatory and compliance matters and benefits from the presence in the team of several lawyers who have experience serving as general counsel to leading airlines and government bodies. The group has an additional transactional offering for its aviation clients and is also sought out for aviation insurance claims work, covering baggage loss, passenger injury and wrongful death claims. Toronto-based Catherine Pawluch‘s practice includes advising lead airlines on key regulatory matters and competition law. David Neave handles dispute resolution from Vancouver. Laura Safran QC in Calgary is also notable for her strong transactional and litigation offering.

Other key lawyers:

David Neave; Andrew MacFarlane

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

  • Defending British Airways in six separate class proceedings, two in Quebec, with respect to an alleged price-fixing conspiracy
  • Defending Lufthansa in a putative class proceeding commenced in Ontario with respect to refunds for Covid-19 cancellations.
  • Acting for Air Canada in a class action in Saskatchewan in which it is alleged that certain airlines conspired to fix fees for passenger’s first and second checked baggage.

Dentons

Dentons' aviation practice is known for its transactional strength and is singled out for its ability to 'proactively identify red flags associated with Canada that would not be evident to practitioners outside the jurisdiction'. It acts for a number of leading airlines on their Canadian operations and investments, from small matters to large-scale mandates, and is noted for handling finance, acquisitions, and leasing. It also offers support on litigation. The team is jointly headed by Robert Quon in Vancouver, who is a key name for industry clients based in Asia, and Toronto-based Carlo Vairo , who is a 'go-to advisor for all Canadian aircraft finance work'. Kathryn McCulloch advises on drone-related matters.

Practice head(s):

Carlo Vairo; Robert Quon

Other key lawyers:

Kathryn McCulloch

Testimonials

‘This team continually considers what matters to its clients and proactively identifies red flags associated with Canada that would not be evident to practitioners outside the jurisdiction.’

‘Carlo Vairo is my go-to advisor for all Canadian aircraft finance work.’

Gowling WLG

Gowling WLG offers a broad set of services to its clients, handling contentious and non-contentious matters. Often linking with the firm's corporate practice, the firm is able to act as a one-stop-shop for aviation clients. It has compliance and regulatory expertise, with experience advising on aviation-specific and broad corporate regulatory work, as well as transactional expertise, including leasing arrangements, air services agreement negotiation and financing. The team also provides litigation support on matters including personal injury, cargo claims and wrongful death matters. Guy David leads the practice, advising on both transactional matters and financing regulations out of Ottawa.

Practice head(s):

Guy David

Key clients

Bombardier

Export Development Canada

WestJet Airlines

NavCanada

United Airlines

Laurentian Bank / LBC Capital /LBEL

CAE

Menzies Aviation

Work highlights

  • Defending United Airlines in a competition law class action focusing on capacity restrictions.
  • Advised Export Development Canada on an unsecured revolving credit facility in favour of Chorus Aviation Inc.
  • Handling numerous patent drafting and prosecution mandates for CAE Inc. in Canada.

Stikeman Elliott LLP

Stikeman Elliott LLP is involved in major domestic and cross-border mandates. Its attorneys are experienced acting in class actions, commercial disputes and wide-ranging product liability claims. The team also has transactional experience, covering aircraft and equipment financing as well as leasing, and provides regulatory advice to its clients. Pierre-Paul Daunais heads the litigation arm; he is experienced in complex aviation disputes. Sterling Dietze and Serge Levy lead the transactional arm. All named lawyers are based in Montreal.

Key clients

Airbus Canada Limited Partnership

Bombardier Inc. and Bombardier Aerospace Corporation

United Technologies Corporation

Air Canada

Brussels Airlines S.A.

CAE Inc.

Vancouver Airport Authority

Skyservice

Global Jet

ACASS Canada Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Acting as lead counsel to Cargojet Inc. in connection with various financing matters
  • Advised Airbus Canada Limited Partnership on various contractual issues relating to aircraft development.
  • Acted for the Government of Manitoba in connection with the outsourcing of multiple provincial transport and aviation programs.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Known for its contentious offering, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP represents aircraft operators, manufacturers and insurers in major disputes and claims cases. The team handles all forms of major litigation regarding aerospace operation, construction and ground handling, including a wide number of insurance claims work as well. Other work includes aircraft restructuring and insolvency cases, with recent involvement in various bankruptcy proceedings. Leon Beukman leads the aviation team from Vancouver, offering over 30 years of experience in civil litigation for aviation stakeholders.

Practice head(s):

Leon Beukman

Other key lawyers:

Robin Squires; Robert Love

Work highlights

  • Representing Alberta Health Services in a case involving the award of the contract for fixed-wing air ambulance services in the province of Alberta.
  • Settled a complex case in mediation on behalf of AGCS involving an aircraft crash at take-off in Muskoka that resulted in two fatalities.
  • Appealed to the Canadian Transportation Agency under CANSCA to dispute fees on NetJet levied by NAV CANADA.

Fasken

Fasken's aviation team provides a broad range of legal services to its clients, which include airlines and aviation maintenance providers. In addition to handling transactional matters, the team has particular expertise advising on employment matters, including disputes and visa-related matters, as well as unique airport restructurings. It also covers contentious matters, notably including large-scale, multi-jurisdictional class actions. Employment specialist Douglas Gilbert and Peter Pliszka, who focuses on disputes, are key names in Toronto, while Eric Simard , who is active in litigation, is the name to note in Montreal.

Key clients

Airbus Group

Boeing Company

Gate Gourmet

Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Turbomeca SA

Piper Aircraft, Inc.

Airbus Helicopters

Marsh Canada Limited

Work highlights

  • Counsel to Gate Gourmet on a full range of labour and employment matters.
  • Represented Air Transat and TTC in connection with class actions related to Covid-19 cancellations.
  • Advised on the strategic partnership between J.P Morgan Chase and Air Canada to make Chase the exclusive issuer of the Aeroplan US credit card.