Aviation in Canada

Bennett Jones LLP

The specialist aviation practice at Bennett Jones LLP has a strong reputation for advising Canadian airlines and service providers on aircraft purchases and sales, leasing, financing transactions and debt restructuring. Calgary-based practice head Patrick Brennan is widely recognized as a leader in the field. In addition to maintaining a prolific aircraft finance and leasing practice, the group has also been involved in the development of aviation infrastructure, and government procurement of aviation services. The practice group also handles crisis response and litigation, and compliance and regulatory matters for domestic air carriers. Associate Noriko Shimura is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Patrick Brennan

Key clients

Air North

ATB Financial

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

de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited

Chorus Aviation Inc.

Chorus Aviation Capital (Ireland) Limited

General Bank of Canada

Jazz Aviation LP

Voyageur Aviation Corp.

Longview Aviation Capital Corp

Work highlights

  • Represented Longview Aviation Corp., parent company to Viking Air Limited and a leading Canadian aircraft manufacturer, in its $300m acquisition of the entire Dash 8 program.
  • Advised the purchaser on the purchase of 100% of the ownership of Nieuport Aviation Infrastructure Partners GP, the entity that owns and operates the passenger terminal at Billy Bishop Airport next to downtown Toronto.
  • Acted for a Chorus subsidiary in the agreements to purchase two new Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft and lease them to Jambojet Limited, a subsidiary of Kenya Airways PLC.

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Acting for air carriers, investment banks and several of the market's largest air leasing companies, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP has experience of a wide range of transactional matters, including aviation finance and leasing, M&A, public procurement, debt restructuring and insurance matters. In addition, the firm has a strong regulatory department, with a dedicated drones team led by Jason MacIntyre and Auriol Marasco. The wider aircraft group is jointly led by aircraft finance specialist Donald Gray in Toronto, alongside MacIntyre and Marasco, who also have expertise in aviation finance. MacIntyre in particular is rated for his structured finance work.

Key clients

AerCap

Aergo Capital Limited

Air Lease Corporation (ALC)

Aviation Working Group (AWG)

Avolon

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise

Field Aviation Company Inc.

GE Capital Aviation Services (Ireland and US)

Morgan Stanley

Nutrien

PNC Aviation Finance (US)

WestJet Airlines Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised WestJet on its C$5bn acquisition by Onex Corporation.
  • Advised a syndicate of underwriters led by TD Securities, JPMorgan and Citi on Air Canada’s public offering of C$500m of voting shares and $650m of convertible senior notes.
  • Appointed as lead international counsel to the Aviation Working Group.

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP stands out in part for its advice on regulatory and compliance matters. Catherine Pawluch, who heads the firm's broader transportation group from Toronto, focuses on issues including passenger rights, airline operational and safety compliance and air cargo claims. The team has a strong record in litigation arising from baggage and cargo loss, passenger injury and wrongful death claims. On the transactional side, Toronto-based Laura Safran QC has assisted a wide variety of clients with new and used aircraft acquisitions, dispositions, leases and financings. The group also works in conjunction with the firm's wider transportation department on infrastructure development matters.

Other key lawyers:

Andrew McFarlane; David Neave

Key clients

Delta Airlines

Air Canada

Deutsche 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.

Onex Partners Advisor LP

Work highlights

  • Acted for Onex in the ‎the ‎purchase of WestJet Airlines, a deal in excess of $5bn.

Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP

Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP has advised airlines, manufacturers, charter companies and corporate aircraft owners and operators on all aspects of aviation transactions and regulatory matters. Colby Dewart leads the practice and has extensive experience in aircraft acquisition, leasing and financing.

Practice head(s):

Colby Dewart

Dentons

According to clients, the team at Dentons is 'consistently a partner in identifying issues and providing solutions that work from a business perspective'. Acting for financiers, aircraft chartered companies, private operators and manufacturers, the team has particular strengths in aircraft finance, leasing and acquisitions. The team is also unique for its strong relationships with China-based clients. The aviation group is jointly led by Robert Quon in Vancouver and Toronto-based Carlo Vairo, 'a trusted advisor on aviation finance matters', who has 'a fantastic understanding of the Canadian aviation market'.

Practice head(s):

Carlo Vairo; Robert Quon

Other key lawyers:

Kathryn McCulloch

Testimonials

The Canadian aviation practice at Dentons is quick to respond and is consistently a partner in identifying issues and providing solutions that work from a business perspective.

Carlo Vairo is excellent, responsive, and has a fantastic understanding of the Canadian aviation market.

Carlo Viaro is a trusted advisor on Canadian aviation finance matters. He is responsive and insightful and is a valuable co-counsel on our transactions that require Canadian law advice.

Carlo Viaro has deep knowledge of aircraft transactions in Canada and also cross-border transaction in and between the US and Canada. He’s responsive and his fees are reasonable.

Gowling WLG

Gowling WLG's aviation team handles the full range of contentious and non-contentious matters, from Canadian regulatory compliance and disputes to financing, leasing and acquisition transactions. Guy David is a name to note for aircraft finance work and is a key adviser to Export Development Canada (EDC). In addition to its EDC work, the group also acts for air carriers and manufacturers, among other aviation companies. On the contentious side, the team has experience of passenger rights, personal injury and wrongful death, and cargo claims. Marie-France Béland left for an in-house position in August 2020.

Other key lawyers:

Guy David

Key clients

Export Development Canada

Bombardier Inc

Westjet Airlines

United Airlines

NAV CANADA

Air Canada

CIBC World Market

Delta Airlines

CAE Inc.

ECN Aviation

Gulfstream Aviation

Menzies Aviation

Work highlights

  • Advised NAV Canada on an issue of $850m of general obligation notes in two series on a private placement basis pursuant to exemptions from the prospectus requirements of applicable Canadian securities laws.
  • Acted as Canadian law outside counsel for Export Development Canada, handling lending work including aircraft finance files as well as advisory files across various disciplines.
  • Advised Bombardier Inc, on the sale of its Q400 program to De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Based in Montréal, the aviation team at Norton Rose Fulbright is highlighted by clients for its experience acting for a variety of market participants, and for its ability to call in resources from across the firm's international network to advise on cross-border transactions.  In addition to handling M&A and financing and leasing transactions, the team also has experience negotiating joint ventures and strategic alliances. Transportation head Alain Ricard has a strong record in aircraft financing and sales and acquisitions; he jointly leads the practice alongside corporate and securities partner Paul Raymond.

Practice head(s):

Alain Ricard; Paul Raymond

Other key lawyers:

Nicolas Labrecque; James Cade

Testimonials

Their aircraft financing practice is unique because few people work in this area and therefore to have credibility, you need to be doing this constantly. NRF has team members in all jurisdictions with vast experience both acting for the airlines and also acting for the other parties. This means they can appreciate all views and come up with solutions that work for both parties.

The partners we deal with on the Litigation side have in depth knowledge of the functions of government and administrative law which is a key to navigating through this highly regulated industry. The team assisting us on constitutional and administrative litigation (Pierre Bienvenu and Andres Garin) are not only extremely knowledgeable, they are highly respected by the judiciary particularly in the appeal levels. Their keen sense of the interplay between politics/public policy, administration and law, and their sound advice on balancing these various interests makes them highly valued strategic partners. Their aircraft financing team have deep knowledge in this area.

Key clients

Bombardier

CAE

WestJet Airlines

CHC Helicopter Inc.

Bell Helicopter Textron

Air Transat

Aéroports de Montreal

Air Canada

Air Nunavut

Pratt & Whitney

Héroux-Devtek Inc.

Qantas Airways Ltd.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP acts for clients including insurers, air carriers and other aviation companies in commercial disputes and insurance claims, debt restructuring and insolvency proceedings. Leon Beukman, who heads the practice from Vancouver, has extensive experience representing airlines, general aviation operators and manufacturers in civil litigation. The team also provides a wide range of corporate and competition advice, and has expertise in aircraft finance.

Practice head(s):

Leon Beukman

Other key lawyers:

Robert Love; Kendall Andersen

Key clients

Lloyds

Westport / Swiss Re

Air Georgian

AIG

Emirates

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions

CATSA

Helicopter Transport Services

Allianz

Bombardier/Aloft Aeroarchitects

Global Aerospace

AXA XL

USAIG

Air Charter Service (ACS)

Wabusk Air

Alberta Health Services (AHS)

Noreast Electronics Co. Ltd

Aéroports de Montréal

Work highlights

  • Defended insurers in multi-year litigation arising after a multi-fatality aircraft accident in southern Ontario.
  • Represented Alberta Health Services in litigation involving the award of the contract for fixed wing air ambulance services in the province of Alberta.
  • Handled a claim involving personal injuries being sustained as a result of a polar bear attack.

Fasken

The aviation group at Fasken is highlighted in particular for its advice on sector-specific labour and employment matters, and corporate transactions including debt finance and M&A. Douglas Gilbert is a name to note for labour law advice; he and the federal labour and employment group are regularly representing clients including Air Canada in labour disputes and collective bargaining negotiations. Other key figures in the service group include national product liability head Peter Pliszka and Eric Simard in Montréal, who co-chairs the commercial litigation group. Named lawyers are based in Toronto unless stated otherwise.

Testimonials

‘Exceptional depth of knowledge of the rather niche laws which apply to inter-provincial and international transportation.’

‘Exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable team which never hesitates to go the extra mile.’

‘Unique depth of knowledge of federal labour law with a responsive and pragmatic team.’

‘Extremely talented with depth of expertise. Able to manage large and complex M&A transactions.’

Key clients

Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Airbus Group

Airbus Helicopters

Boeing Company

Gate Gourmet

Marsh Canada Limited

Turbomeca SA

Piper Aircraft, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represented Air Canada in judicial review of an arbitration decision under the Canada Labour Code.
  • Counsel to Gate Gourmet on strategic matters and ongoing representation in collective agreement arbitrations, labour relations board proceedings and employment, human rights, health and safety, and workers’ compensation claims.
  • Represented WestJet Airlines in a human rights complaint filed by a candidate for employment alleging discrimination in WestJet’s hiring practices.

Stikeman Elliott LLP

Stikeman Elliott LLP stands out for its expertise in aviation litigation, being regularly involved in domestic and cross-border commercial aviation and aerospace disputes, including product liability claims and class actions. The practice group also advises on aircraft and equipment finance and regulatory compliance. Litigator Pierre-Paul Daunais has a strong record in complex aeronautics disputes, and jointly heads the team alongside financing experts Sterling Dietze and Serge Levy, all of whom are based in Montréal.

Other key lawyers:

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

  • Advised Airbus Canada Limited Partnership on various contractual matters.
  • Represented Bombardier in several instances of damages litigation.
  • Acted for the Government of Manitoba in connection with the outsourcing of its wildfire aviation suppression services to Babcock Canada and its general transport aviation programme.