Aviation finance in France

Norton Rose Fulbright

The aviation finance team at Norton Rose Fulbright is retained by several major banks, with which it has longstanding and institutional relationships. Clients such as Société Générale and BNP Paribas benefit from the firm's ability to advise across jurisdictions and regions, as well as access to the firm's in-house tax and dispute resolution specialists. The department is well versed in the full range of financing, leasing and regulatory matters.  Alternative funding continues to be a growth area for the practice, with the group recently advising on the development of an AFIC non-payment insurance product. George Paterson is dual qualified in England and France and is highly skilled in the area of export credit finance. Other key names include asset finance specialist Marc Hamilton and up-and-coming counsel Sébastien Allain.

Practice head(s):

George Paterson

Other key lawyers:

Marc Hamilton; Sébastien Allain

Testimonials

Very professional, always available and capable of taking into their stride any aspect of a transaction. Lots of internal resources.

A large English law practice outside of the UK with knowledge of European, in particular French and German, regulatory requirements and other peculiarities (both legal and non-legal). The practice does not shy away from non-English law issues, but rather adopts a pragmatic and client orientated approach.’

The individuals are approachable and down to earth and always available.

‘George Paterson is an exceptional expert in the field of aviation finance; Marc Hamilton is strong in asset and export finance.’

There is no better aviation financing team in France.’

Key clients

Aercap

Bank of China

BNP Paribas

BOC Aviation

Bpifrance Assurance Export

Carlyle Aviation Partners (previously Apollo Aviation)

CIC

Crédit Agricole

Crédit Suisse

Euler Hermes Deutschland AG

Export Development Canada

GE Capital Aviation

HSBC

Jackson Square Aviation

Natixis

Nordic Aviation Capital

Orix Aviation

Société Générale

UK Export Finance

UniCredit Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised Development Bank of Japan Inc. on the AFIC-supported Japanese operating lease financing with a call option of one 787 to El Al Israel Airlines.
  • Advised BNP Paribas on a French Lease combined with Balthazar supported financing of five A321 neo aircraft to THY.
  • Assisted Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank with a commercial refinancing combined with a JOLCO for B747-8F for Cargolux.

Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP

The Paris-based aviation finance department at Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP has both French and English law capabilities and is fully integrated within the global practice, often acting in close coordination with the firm's offices in Germany, the US, Singapore and Hong Kong. This makes it a popular choice for prominent international banks, financial institutions, manufacturers and airlines, who benefit from the full-service offering spanning acquisition financing, agency-supported transactions, alternative financings and tax leases. The  practice is also well versed in comparative law exercises, notably transfer of title and security rights over aircraft. Asset-finance specialist Alexander Premont is active advising on cross-border transactions and financings across a range of asset classes.

Practice head(s):

Alexander Premont

Key clients

Swissport Financing S.à r.l. / HNA Group Co Ltd

Société Générale

UBS

Natixis

BRED Banque Populaire

BNP Paribas (Suisse)

La Banque Postale

Natixis

CACIB

Rolls-Royce

Work highlights

  • Advised Société Générale, Ingepar, BRED Banque Populaire and several other French financial institutions on the financing by way of French tax lease (LODEOM) of Air Calédonie International concerning the acquisition in July and September 2019 of two new Airbus aircraft.
  • Advised Royal Air Maroc on the financing by way of sale-and-leaseback of one Boeing 787 by Natixis and other financial institutions.
  • Advisesd Société Générale, Ingepar, Agence Française de Développement, Crédit Industriel et Commercial on an AFIC-supported loan facility for two Boeing B787-9 aircraft.

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood acts on major aircraft financings involving French banks, where the firm's network of offices in key aviation jurisdictions facilitates international transactions. Other work for the team includes acting as French counsel on asset-backed securitisations and representing operating lessors in relation to operating leases, financings, sales and leasebacks. Department head Edward Campbell is qualified in England, New York and France, and as well as his broad transactional expertise, is experienced in structuring deals on shari-ah based principles.

Practice head(s):

Edward Campbell

Key clients

Air Côte d’Ivoire (ACI)

Lion Air Group

AirAsia

Avico Group

Castlelake

Avolon (formerly CIT)

Aergo

BBAM Aircraft Leasing & Management

CIC (Crédit Industriel et Commercial)

Merx Aviation Servicing Limited

Macquarie AirFinance

BOC Aviation Limited

Close Brothers Limited

Dreamjet

Acofi Gestion

Work highlights

  • Advising Babcock and Brown Aircraft Management on various transactions, including the transfer of ownership and lease agreement novation with Air France, Transavia and ASL Airlines France.
  • Acted as French counsel to Castlelake on asset-backed securitisations and financings involving both French and Indonesian registered aircraft.
  • Advising Singapore-based Transportation Partners and their affiliated airlines on the acquisition and financing of a number of Boeing 737 aircraft, Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft and ATR 72 aircraft.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP

Watson Farley & Williams LLP's well-established presence in asset management extends to aviation finance, where the Paris-based practice is regularly appointed to panels for several large banks. Notably, the team was selected to sit on the Aviation Working Group, advising on its Global Aircraft Trading System and the development of ESG policies. Other work for the department includes complex alternative funding structures, leasing transactions and debt capital market financings on behalf of a broad client list featuring manufacturers, export credit agencies, arrangers and lessors. Asset finance specialist Alexia Russell takes the reins in France following global co-head of aviation Charles Viggers' relocation to the Singapore office.

Practice head(s):

Alexia Russell

Key clients

Avions de Transport Régional G.I.E.

Bank of China

BNP Paribas

BRED Banque Populaire

CaixaBank

China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings

Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

Crédit Industriel et Commercial

DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale

Deutsche Bank

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise

European ECAs (ECGD, Bpifrance Assurance Export and Euler Hermes)

Export-Import Bank of the United States

French Ministry of Defence

Hamburg Commercial Bank (fka HSH Nordbank)

ICBC Financial Leasing

Investec

KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH

La Banque Postale

Natixis

Société Générale

Work highlights

  • Assisted the French Ministry of Defence with carrying out its A400m aircraft programme and with the preparation of new contracts and amendments to the existing contractual documentation.
  • Advising BNP Paribas as debt arranger, lender, fixed rate agent, facility agent and security agent, on the JOLCO financing of three Airbus 321-200 NEO aircraft for Wizz Air Hungary.
  • Advising SMTB as debt arranger, facility agent and hedge counterparty on the JOLCO financing of two Boeing 737-800 aircraft for Bocomm Leasing to be subleased to Dutch airline KLM.

HFW

HFW fields a broad aviation finance practice representing clients from all parts of the industry including airlines, insurers, banks and handling agents. As one of the firm's core sectors, the team is able to offer a range of services spanning the transactional, financing, dispute resolution and regulatory spheres. Recently, the team was retained on a large-scale fleet restructuring with practice head Pierre Frühling taking a lead on this. Timothy Clemens-Jones is another key name in the group, specialising in international transportation; he is qualified to represent clients before English and French courts.

Practice head(s):

Pierre Frühling

Other key lawyers:

Timothy Clemens-Jones

Key clients

Air Austral

Air Corsica

Air Tahiti Nui

Aircalin

Cargolux

Corsair

Croatia Airlines

Hi Fly

Mont Blanc Helicopteres / HBG Group

Vietnam Airlines

Wizz Air

Work highlights

  • Advising Corsair on the restructuring of its entire long-haul fleet, including taking in operating lease 7 Airbus A330 neo and 2 A330 ceo.
  • Advising Air Corsica on taking into operating lease with ICBC two new Airbus A320.
  • Advising Cargolux on purchasing a Boeing B747-400 ERF Cargo to Arosa Leasing.

Odi-Sé Avocats

Boutique aviation firm Odi-Sé Avocats has a core focus on commercial aviation, business aviation, helicopters and defence. The practice is primarily retained by banking clients although the group also advises manufacturers, operators, brokers and owners. On the defence side, the department is called on for the structured financing of equipment and the outsourcing of equipment by the French Ministry of Defence. Thomas Boone has significant restructuring and insolvency experience. Matthieu de Varax leads the practice and is a member of the EBAA.

Practice head(s):

Matthieu de Varax

Other key lawyers:

Thomas Boone

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Crédit Agricole CIB

BRED Banque Populaire

Air Caraïbes

Air Austral

French Bee

RIVE Private Equipment

TAP Air Portugal

Nova Capital Helicopter Leasing

Air Tahiti Nui

Work highlights

  • Advising Air Tahiti Nui on the AFIC-guaranteed tax lease financing of two Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
  • Advising Air Caraïbes on the commercial debt financing and delivery of one new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.
  • Advising Nova Capital Helicopters Two, as borrower and lessor, on the sale-and-leaseback and senior financing of five helicopters operated by the Babcock International group in Italy, Sweden and the UK.

Ravet & Associés

Richard Jadot, who joined Ravet & Associés from HFW in 2019, is typically retained on domestic and cross-border aviation transactions, with further expertise in financing restructurings and aircraft repossession cases. The wider practice also handles litigation and corporate matters and counts as clients large international banks and domestic airlines. A niche area where the firm has developed specific expertise is in the use of fiducie contracts as a means of providing security for lenders in the context of insolvency proceedings. This has enabled the team to implement innovative schemes for clients who would not otherwise have been able to access certain financing solutions.

Practice head(s):

Richard Jadot

Key clients

BANK OF CHINA

NATIXIS

CREDIT AGRICOLE

NORD LB

CAISSE d’EPARGNE

AIR FRANCE

CCB Financial Leasing Corporation

CAIRE airline (Compagnie Aérienne Inter-Régionale Express)

Engine Lease Finance Corporation

Aerovision International

Vedder Price

Work highlights

  • Advised Bank of China on the financing of a Boeing 787-9 aircraft for Air France.
  • Advised Air Austral on the financing of two ATR72-600 aircraft by Investec Bank.
  • Advised TrueNoord on the French law aspects of the leasing and sub-leasing of four ATR72-600 aircraft for PT Wings Abadi Airlines Indonesia.

Stream – Avocats et Solicitors

A key name for borrower financing, Stream – Avocats et Solicitors acts for a number of domestic airlines including Air France and Transavia France although it also acts for lenders, lessors and airports. Tax law is a key area for the practice, with the group routinely assisting with the structuring and operating of leases. The group, led by Laurence Hanley, includes a diverse mix of internationally qualified lawyers making it a popular choice for clients undertaking cross-border transactions and financings.

Practice head(s):

Laurence Hanley

Key clients

Air France – KLM

Transavia France

HOP!-Regional SAS

Work highlights

  • Assisting with the financing of two long haul aircraft (one B787-9 and one A350) with major a French bank through a conditional sale agreement.
  • Assisting a client with several JOLCO financings for its A350 aircraft with a major bank and Japanese investors.
  • Assisting a client with the sale-and-leaseback of 16 aircraft to a major American bank.