Firms To Watch: Transport: aviation and air travel - finance

Vinson & Elkins LLP launched a New York-based aviation finance practice in January 2022 when it hired as partners David Berkery (former A&L Goodbody LLP partner in Dublin) and former Milbank associate Niels Jensen, who between them advise airlines, aircraft leasing companies, financial institutions and private investors.

Transport: aviation and air travel - finance in United States

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance services a wide-ranging client base, and consistently acts for investment banks, arrangers, and finance and operating lessors. It also routinely advises servicers, investors, export credit agencies and governmental authorities. The New York-based practice fields both commercial and export credit agency financing experts, and is highly experienced in aviation capital markets transactions. The department also has a robust operating lessor practice that acts for established and newer operating leasing companies. Clients additionally benefit from the aviation finance team’s ability to leverage specialists from the firm’s tax, corporate, capital markets and litigation groups. In recent highlights, the team advised Global Jet Capital on a Covid 19-related asset-backed security transaction involving aviation assets. Co-leading the US asset finance practice are aircraft finance expert John Howitt and Zarrar Sehgal, who is experienced in asset finance deals. Particularly focused on aircraft assets, Emily Wicker focuses on secured lending and leasing transactions, while Patrick O’Reilly acts for lenders, borrowers and export credit agencies on aircraft financings. Former partner Madalyn Miller departed the firm in January 2022.

Practice head(s):

John HowittZarrar Sehgal

Other key lawyers:

Emily Wicker; Patrick O’Reilly

Key clients

AerCap

Avolon

AWAS

BBAM

Deutsche Bank

DVB Bank

GECAS

Global Jet Capital

Goldman Sachs

Stonebriar Commercial Finance

Work highlights

  • Advised Global Jet Capital on a Covid 19-related asset-backed security transaction involving aviation assets.
  • Advised Goldman Sachs, as co-arranger, on the syndicated component of Avianca’s $2bn debtor-in-possession financing facility.
  • Advised GECAS and GE Equity on a joint venture arrangement involving PIMCO to create an aviation leasing platform to support up to $3bn in aircraft asset financings.

Holland & Knight LLP

Holland & Knight LLP is consistently involved in headline deals involving the purchase, sale, lease and financing of aircraft, engines and parts. It is also active in relation to helicopter and electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft transactions. Doing ‘everything possible to help the client succeed‘, the group completes a high volume of transactions. Heading up the practice, Phillip L. Durham, who divides his time between the firm’s Chicago and New York offices, is particularly focused on finance transactions in Latin America and other emerging markets. Also integral to the group is John F. Pritchard, who assists with aircraft financing and leasing work, including securitizations and enforcement matters. In San Francisco, William Piels acts for aircraft operating lessors and international financial institutions on aircraft leasing and financing deals; and Nathan Leavitt  is also active in relation to airlines operating in Latin America. At of counsel level, Fred Bass is another aircraft financing and leasing deal expert, while associate Laura Lewis regularly acts for aircraft leasing clients. All attorneys mentioned are based in the New York office, unless otherwise stated.

Practice head(s):

Phillip Durham

Testimonials

A combination of high intelligence and strong analytical and advocacy skills.

Efficiency and an ability to communicate effectively (both verbally and in writing).

They are great lawyers who understand and own clients’ problems.

They do everything possible to help the client succeed.

Key clients

Aercap

BBAM Aircraft Management

Merx Aviation Capital

Jackson Square Aviation

SMBC Aviation Capital

Aircastle

Aviation Capital Group

CIT

Avolon Aerospace Leasing

Vx Capital Partners

Sumitomo Mitsui Finance & Leasing Company

BOC Aviation

CDB Aviation

Work highlights

  • Advised thirteen aircraft leasing companies/JOLCO equity arrangers (including Aircastle, Avolon Aerospace Leasing, BOC Aviation, CDB Aviation, Engine Lease Finance Corporation, Fuyo Aviation and GE Capital Aviation Services, among others), in relation to Avianca-Taca’s leased fleet (as part of the Avianca Chapter 11 case).
  • Assisted CIT Group with the sale of a loan portfolio, secured by approximately 60 aircraft.
  • Advised GECAS on the Thrust 2021-1 asset-backed securitization for twenty four engines.

Vedder Price

Vedder Price‘s global transportation finance practice covers the entire spectrum of aircraft finance transactions. Representative expertise for the ‘extremely commercial and strategically-thinking aviation team‘ ranges from large-value M&A to aircraft-related asset-backed securities work, portfolio debt financings, and structured multi-aircraft financings in the capital markets. The department also has a robust leaseback transactions practice. Heading up the team, corporate and securities law specialist Geoffrey R. Kass is highly rated for structured financings in the aviation transportation industry. Adam R. Beringer and Michael E. Draz are also widely respected aircraft finance experts, while Mark J. Ditto is regularly sought out for complex commercial aircraft and high-value equipment deals. In New York, Cameron A. Gee  routinely handles financing structures established across multiple jurisdictions; and Jeffrey T. Veber has great experience in transportation financings. On the West Coast, Raviv Surpin is an aircraft finance transactions expert in the Los Angeles office. At associate level, Justine L. Chilvers in New York ‘stands out for her ability to drive deals‘, while James Kilner‘s broad banking and finance practice includes aviation sales and leasebacks. All named lawyers are based  in the firm’s Chicago office unless otherwise mentioned.

Practice head(s):

Geoffrey Kass

Testimonials

An extremely commercial and strategically-thinking aviation team. Highly skilled in difficult situations with airline bankruptcies – the work done for us on an airline bankruptcy was absolutely outstanding, and the outcome was way beyond what we could ever have imagined.

We trust them to deliver. This team has a unique and wide-ranging client base that gives them a broad perspective on the market and market terms.

They provided us with updates when we needed them and delivered exactly as we expected (in actual fact even better than expected).

Their work is unparalleled.

We have complete trust in the integrity and capabilities of Cameron Gee.

Cameron Gee’s work has been outstanding. He went above and beyond what we expected of him on many occasions. Hs is always available, extremely strategic in his approach, and very commercially minded.

Adam Beringer is very knowledgeable, and is great to work with on structuring and strategizing.

Associate Justine Chilvers is excellent. She stands out for her ability to drive deals and offer an excellent service.

Key clients

Air Canada

Aero Capital Solutions

BBAM Aircraft Management

Castlelake

Export Development Canada

Export-Import Bank of the United States

ITE Management

MUFG Bank

SKY Leasing

Southwest Airlines Co

Work highlights

  • Advised Castlelake Aviation Lending on a series of structured lending transactions.
  • Advised Citibank and Credit Suisse on the $553.6m offering of British Airways Pass Through Certificates (Series 2021-1 in two classes).
  • Advised SKY Leasing on the issuance of $663m of secured notes by SLAM 2021-1 Limited and SLAM 2021-1 LLC, which were secured by a portfolio of 16 aircraft (with SKY Leasing as the servicer).

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Experienced in handling a broad array of aviation transactional matters, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP‘s New York-based practice covers aircraft and non-aircraft financings, capital markets deals, restructurings, and airport infrastructure development and financing. Co-heading the practice are Paul Brusiloff and Brian Liu. Praised by clients as ‘great to work with‘, Brusiloff, a long-standing counsel to American Airlines, advises borrowers on debt and equity financings. He also assists with refinancing, recapitalization and restructuring transactions. Liu acts for airlines, leasing companies and financial institutions on aviation and equipment finance deals. At associate level, Robert Gucwa advises on aviation-related secured debt and capital market financings, while Iryna Nikolaieva‘s project finance practice includes aircraft financing.

Practice head(s):

Brian Liu; Paul Brusiloff

Other key lawyers:

Robert Gucwa; Iryna Nikolaieva

Testimonials

The team’s expertise was second to none, but they did not rest on their laurels. They were thoughtful, proactive and responsive to us as a client.

Strong knowledge of aviation finance.

Willing to take on projects that require innovation and creativity.

Paul Brusiloff was great to work with – always available and thinking one step ahead, yet taking the time to explain all the risks and benefits to our financing team as they considered options and alternatives.

Paul Brusiloff and his team were simply wonderful, and we appreciated the different billing options proposed.

Key clients

AAR CORP

Alaska Airlines

American Airlines

JetBlue Airways

Spirit Airlines

Philippine Airlines

Work highlights

  • Advised JetBlue Airways on its offering of over 35m shares in common stock.
  • Assisted AAR CORP with grants and documentation concerning the Payroll Support Program Part 2, which was implemented under the CARES Act.
  • Advised Alaska Airlines on a sale-leaseback transaction with Air Lease Corp for 13 new 737-9 MAX aircraft.

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP houses experts in both asset-backed security deals and enhanced equipment trust certificate transactions. Co-chairing the aviation finance group are Steven Chung in Washington DC, who specializes in aircraft and other structured equipment financings; and senior counsel John Hoyns, who has longstanding aviation industry experience. In the Miami office, Mark Denham‘s expertise includes aircraft leases and loans, pre-delivery payment financings, warehouse facilities and securitizations. Also integral to the group are aviation finance experts Andrew Fowler and Terry Sanders, along with commercial aircraft finance-focused senior associates Sean Murphy Murphy and DC-based Cynthia Liu. In 2021, aviation finance specialist Thomas Healey joined the DC office from Katten. All named attorneys are based in New York, unless otherwise stated.

Practice head(s):

Steven Chung; John Hoyns

Key clients

United Airlines

Griffin Global Asset Management

Bain Capital Credit

Griffin Global Asset Management

Blackbird Capital II

Hawaiian Airlines

Delta Air Lines

Republic Airways

Goldman Sachs

Work highlights

  • Advised United Airlines on a $10.75bn senior secured debt financing,
  • Assisted United Airlines with a $1.5bn-plus leasing deal with BOC Aviation, which covered 22 new aircraft.
  • Advised joint venture partners Griffin Global Asset Management and Bain Capital on a five-year $1bn senior secured warehouse facility.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright‘s ‘diverse‘ and ‘extremely knowledgeable‘ aviation team acts on a broad array of aviation finance transactions. The client base ranges from airlines to operating lessors, hedge funds, US institutional equity investors, and commercial and investment banks. The firm has a notable ability to leverage global aviation expertise in numerous jurisdictions during cross-border transactions. Alyssa Marie Vazquez is head of aviation in the US, while Sean Corrigan has considerable aviation experience in equipment financing. Of counsel James D Tussing acts on US and cross-border transport finance and lease deals, while senior counsel Fiona Henderson is ‘well versed in both UK law and NY law‘. At senior associate level, Ryan Apar focuses on transportation equipment financings. All named individuals are based in the New York office.

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Henderson; Ryan Apar

Testimonials

This team is diverse and easy to work with.

They are extremely knowledgeable and each attorney has notable strengths.

We recently started working with them, and are extremely impressed by their attention to detail and knowledge of the industry.

The attorneys at all levels are engaged and detail oriented.

Very well respected by our counterparties and they know when to be tough, but also when to be flexible and compromise.

We particularly enjoy working with senior counsel Fiona Henderson, who is excellent and well versed in both UK law and NY law.

Key clients

Willis Lease Finance Corporation

LATAM Airlines

Carlyle Aviation Partners

Titan Aircraft Investments

DVB Bank SE

777 Partners

Philippine Airlines

DHL Network Operations (USA)

Work highlights

  • Advised Carlyle Aviation Partners on acquisitions of aircraft that are on lease to airlines worldwide.
  • Advising DVB Bank SE on the transfer of its entire aviation lending platform and loan portfolio to MUFG Bank.

K&L Gates

K&L Gates‘ clients range from lenders and lessors, to airlines and aviation sector new technology providers. The team regularly advises on the financing programs for manufacturers of hydrogen fuel tanks, magnetic propulsion, range services, and aircraft and aerospace technology acquisitions. It has also recently assisted with major restructuring matters. Heading the Americas air finance practice from New York, Elizabeth Evans‘ practice covers aviation finance (both fixed wing and rotary). In Charleston, Amanda Darling focuses on asset and project finance, while Miami-based Marie-Pierre Grondin is a former deputy general counsel of GA Telesis, an aircraft engine overhaul and repair station.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Evans

Testimonials

The caliber of team members is uniformly high, regardless of the area of practice. I have not been disappointed by any individual I have consulted at the firm.

The team was able to set out all the options when planning my aircraft purchase. They knew who to talk to and were able to do the research quickly and efficiently.

The people working at K&L Gates are all very professional and skilled.

They get the job done 100% and are always there for us.

Their ability to communicate without any stress is a huge deal for our business. We cannot thank them enough for how good they are.

It is hard to find an individual who combines just the right mix of subject expertise with the realism and irrefutable logic to persuade even the most recalcitrant opponent during negotiations. Aviation and aerospace partner Elizabeth Evans is precisely such a person. After two decades of collaboration and many transactions, I find her intellect, dedication, and practical creativity to be second to none.

Amanda Darling is amazing – well versed and extremely capable.

Amanda Darling’s work is exquisite and super fast, and she is available 24/7.

Key clients

Lufthansa Sky Group

LSG Sky Chefs USA

VeriJet

CareFlight

SMBC Aviation Capital

TC Skyward Aviation US

JP Lease Products & Services Co

Republic Airways

Chishima Real Estate Co

Tokyo Century Corporation

JSSI Parts

Work highlights

  • Advised Tokyo Century Corporation, as exiting junior lender and incoming equity provider, on a lease restructuring with LATAM Airlines Group.
  • Advised Lufthansa Sky Group (and its affiliates) on the funding available under CARES II.
  • Assisted TC Skyward Aviation US (as senior and mezzanine lender) on the financing, security, lease negotiation and purchase of certain Boeing 787 Dreamliner components.

Katten

Katten fields specialists in the financing of new and used aircraft, engines and related equipment. Its expertise also covers pooled aircraft securitizations, along with compliance work. Aviation transactions expert Timothy Lynes chairs the group, which includes commercial and business aircraft deal specialist Stewart Herman. Notable growth includes the July 2021 hire of Timothy Kirby, whose practice covers aviation finance, as partner from Milbank, while Brett Seifarth is a key associate. Former partner Thomas Healey recently left the firm. All advisers named are based in the firm’s Washington DC office unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Timothy Lynes

Key clients

Embraer

Yaborã Indústria Aeronáutica

Work highlights

  • Advised Embraer on the delivery financing of 10 Yaborã Indústria Aeronáutica 175 LL aircraft to United Airlines.

King & Spalding LLP

Well known for its business jet expertise, King & Spalding LLP‘s commercial transactions practice is also growing substantially. The department, led by Atlanta-based Carolyn Alford, routinely covers the international acquisition, de-registration and financing of aircraft. Recent highlights include aircraft workout and repossession work for a business aircraft leasing and finance company. In addition to the transportation finance practice of Charlotte-based Chris Buchanan, who ‘provides prompt, effective and thought-out advice‘, he is an expert on the Payroll Support Program. Former transportation finance head Jason Huff left the firm in 2021.

Practice head(s):

Carolyn Alford

Testimonials

Strong market knowledge – compared to other firms we have worked with, they excel at providing advice that is consistent with the mandate, and do not upsell or flag issues that are not material.

The K&S team is always available, and able to use multiple mediums of technology to engage virtually with clients. They make the life of in-house counsel much easier.

Chris Buchanan is an amazing attorney.

Chris Buchanan provides prompt, effective and thought-out advice that can be shared with the client. He helps make in-house counsel look good in front of the client.

Key clients

G2 Secure Staff

Unifi (DAL Global Services)

Embraer Executive Aircraft

AAW Holdings

Blackstone Alternative Credit Advisors

Work highlights

  • Assisted G2 with Payroll Support Program matters, including responses to the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
  • Advised Embraer Executive Aircraft (EEA) on an Export Import Bank facility that supports approximately $200m of EEA’s executive aircraft exports and 700 American aerospace jobs.
  • Advised Blackstone (as lender) on a loan facility to JSSI, an independent provider of maintenance support and financial services to the business aviation industry.

McGuireWoods LLP

Demonstrating ‘high levels of business acumen‘, McGuireWoods LLP‘s aviation practice represents leasing companies, financial institutions, investment firms, Fortune 500 companies and high-net-worth individuals on corporate aircraft financings. In Charlotte, practice leader Patricia Hosmer is a specialist in transactions involving aviation and other equipment; and David Whelpley Jr.’s experience covers aircraft-related work. Deepak Reddy in New York acts on commercial aircraft financings; and Peter Szurley  is the name to note in San Francisco. acting for financial institutions, hedge funds and finance companies, with both noted as ‘very knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with‘.

Practice head(s):

Patricia Hosmer

Testimonials

High levels of business acumen coupled with scholarly knowledge of law.

Always responsive to client needs, and willing to meet or exceed deadlines.

Particularly good at identifying and explaining all issues for consideration.

A 360-view of issues, with wise counsel on alternatives to consider and the costs/benefits to incorporate into decisions.

Always works constructively with opposing counsel to obtain the best outcome for the client.

Adds value to all elements of a transaction. In addition to the expertise we seek in commercial aviation and related financing, they also have the depth to advise on unusual or unexpected issues that occur and which require attention from a colleague outside of the primary deal team.

Deepak Reddy and Peter Szurley are very knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with.

David Whelpley Jr’s depth of knowledge, not only in the industry, but in a wide variety of non-aviation matters brings a very unique and welcomed perspective to our matters. Outside of our traditional aviation matters, we often have bespoke and non-traditional work that we bring to David – there is no one better at providing creative and eloquent solutions in a timely and efficient manner during a transaction’s closing.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP‘s ‘strong‘ and ‘very responsive‘ aviation practice routinely acts for financial institutions, leasing companies, airlines, manufacturers and export credit agencies. It is particularly noted for both its bank-side work and lessor finance practice. Firm-wide global finance leader, Mark Lessard, regularly advises on cross-border, asset-backed financings, while Melissa Jones-Prus assists with the financing and leasing of aircraft and other aviation assets. In Los Angeles, Richard Evans focuses on finance and leasing transactions involving commercial aircraft and private jets. Pat Reisinger is a key counsel. The practitioners mentioned are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Mark Lessard

Testimonials

Pillsbury is unique in that they represent many lenders and borrowers, and are extremely knowledgeable about complex transactions.

Pillsbury has a strong aviation practice. Their associates are very responsive and helpful, and the partners have strong knowledge of aircraft leasing and ABS structures.

You would be hard pressed to find an aircraft financing/leasing transaction that they have not been involved with.

Pillsbury has a very good aviation practice. They are especially good with capital market deals, but this is not their only strength. They are also very nice to work with.

Very responsive and commercially oriented.

Mark Lessard is terrific – very knowledgeable, hardworking and most of all, practical.

Mark Lessard is an excellent negotiator and well respected in the industry. He is a zealot advocate for his clients and easy to work with.

Melissa Jones-Prus has a very strong legal base and offers an excellent service. I have very much enjoyed working with her over the years.

Key clients

Mizuho Securities

Credit Agricole

Export Development Canada

MUFG

Credit Suisse

Atlas Air

Air Lease Corp

SMBC

Natixis New York Branch

BNP Paribas

Work highlights

  • Advised BofA Securities, MUFG Securities Americas and Wells Fargo Securities (as underwriters) on $336.7m Willis Engine Structured Trust VI fixed rates notes.
  • Advised Natixis on liquidity facilities for 2020-1 and 2021-1 British Airways EETC, Class A and Class B certificates.
  • Advised Credit Suisse, as sole structuring agent and lender, on a $600m warehouse facility for Azorra Aviation, a new regional jet lessor.

White & Case LLP

White & Case LLP’s national practice has longstanding experience in aircraft financing. In New York, Michael Smith is an aircraft finance and equipment leasing expert, while Todd Wolynski‘s broad experience in asset financing transactions includes aircraft and helicopter finance. In Miami, Chris Hansen, whose clients include both airlines and financial institutions, has a robust Latin American practice.

Winston & Strawn LLP

Routinely acting for finance and leasing companies, Winston & Strawn LLP‘s New York-based practice has a strong market reputation for capital markets, finance, leasing, and related restructuring and insolvency matters. Practice leader Pete Morgan and David Neier both regularly advise on aviation finance-related work. Also key to the team is David Gillespie, who assists major airlines, operating lessors, aircraft manufacturers and financial institutions with the leasing and financing of commercial aircrafts. Former aviation finance practice chair Michael O’Brien left the firm in July 2021.

Practice head(s):

Pete Morgan

Key clients

Aviation Capital Group

BNP Paribas

UK Export Finance

Euler Hermes Aktiengesellschaft

Bpifrance Assurance Export

Pratt & Whitney

Work highlights

  • Advised Aviation Capital Group on the securitisation of a portfolio of 24 Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft.
  • Representing BNP Paribas (as finance party) in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of LATAM Airlines Group, and related impact on the financing arrangements of several Airbus A350 and A320 aircraft.
  • Assisted Raytheon Company (and its subsidiary Pratt & Whitney) with the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of LATAM Airlines Group, and related impact on the financing arrangements of an Airbus A320 aircraft that was rejected by LATAM.