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Transport: aviation and air travel - finance in United States

Clifford Chance

With an established track record of working on a number of industry first transactions, Clifford Chance is particularly respected for its commercial and export credit agency (ECA) financing expertise. The team is highly experienced in aviation capital markets transactions, including landmark debt and equity offerings, as well as sophisticated portfolio securitizations and enhanced equipment trust certificate (EETC) issuances. It also boasts a market-leading operating lessor practice. John Howitt and Zarrar Sehgal jointly lead the firm's US asset finance practice; Howitt focuses on aircraft finance, while Sehgal and Patrick O’Reilly recently advised Avolon Aerospace Leasing on the closing of Sapphire Aviation Finance II and Sapphire Finance I's issuance of $620m fixed rate secured notes. Also key to the group are Emily Wicker and Madalyn Miller, who regularly assist with aircraft and equipment finance matters. All named advisors are based in New York.

Practice head(s):

John Howitt; Zarrar Sehgal

Other key lawyers:

Emily Wicker; Patrick O’Reilly; Madalyn Miller

Key clients

AerCap

ILFC

Avolon

AWAS

BBAM

Deutsche Bank

DVB Bank

GECAS

Global Jet Capital, Inc.

Goldman Sachs

Stonebriar Commercial Finance

Work highlights

  • Advised Avolon Aerospace Leasing on the closing of an issuance of $620m of fixed rate secured notes by Sapphire Aviation Finance II and Sapphire Finance II.
  • Advised Global Jet Capital (as servicer) and Business Jet Securities 2020-1 (as issuer) on the issuance of secured notes in an asset backed securitization.
  • Advised NAC, the world’s largest regional aircraft lessor, on the successful restructuring of approximately $6bn of its secured and unsecured debt.

Holland & Knight LLP

Holland & Knight LLP's 'attorneys are wise, sharp counselors with broad experience across a range of transactions'. Over the past five years, the practice has advised clients in over 70 countries on the acquisition, financing, leasing, and structuring of aircraft and helicopter transactions. In New York, names to note are Phillip Durham (practice group leader from January 2020), who focuses on aviation finance transactions in Latin America and other emerging markets; John Pritchard, a former chair of the Aviation Working Group (not-for-profit legal entity) legal advisory panel; Fred Bass, who advises on aircraft financings and leasing; and Richard Furey, who has significant aviation sector experience. In San Francisco, William Piels represents large aircraft operating lessors and international financial institutions; Audrey Sung is an asset-based finance specialist; and Nathan Leavitt is also an expert in transactions involving airlines operating in Latin America. Durham, Pritchard, Leavitt and Piels are 'highlighted for their approachability and availability, and high-level experience'. New York-based Laura Lewis is a key associate.

Practice head(s):

Phillip Durham

Other key lawyers:

John Pritchard; Fred Bass; Richard Furey; William Piels; Audrey Sung; Nathan Leavitt; Laura Lewis; Brian Daigle; William Coleman

Testimonials

The team works seamlessly with clients.’

I would like to highlight Nathan Leavitt, Phillip Durham, John Pritchard and William Piels for their approachability and availability, and high-level experience.

True industry experts, who are wise, sharp counselors with broad experience across a range of transactions.’

Key clients

GE Capital Aviation Services

BBAM Aircraft Management

Merx Aviation Capital

Jackson Square Aviation

SMBC Aviation Capital Limited

Aircastle Limited

Aviation Capital Group

CIT

Avolon Aerospace Leasing Limited

Wings Capital Partners

Work highlights

  • Representing numerous aircraft leasing companies, as creditors, in the Avianca, LATAM Airlines and Aeromexico Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases.
  • Assisted SMBC Aviation Capital with restructuring its Boeing 737 MAX order book with Boeing.
  • Represented BBAM US LP and BBAM Aviation Services (as servicers) in a Horizon III ABS securitization.

Vedder Price

'One of the key law firms in the market', Vedder Price fields a 'very strong' global transportation finance team covering the entire spectrum of aircraft finance transactions, from large M&A transactions to aircraft asset-backed security (ABS) deals, portfolio debt financings, structured multi-aircraft financings, bond offerings and leaseback transactions. Chicago-based practice head Geoffrey Kass focuses on structured financings in the aviation transportation industry; and Adam Beringer (also in Chicago) is a highly regarded commercial aircraft finance specialist. In NewYork, Jeffrey Veber has a strong track record in aviation finance transactions; and Cameron Gee ('one of the best, if not the best, aviation lawyer I have worked with', according to one client) recently represented Castlelake in the structured loan financing of 16 737-800 aircraft and two 777-300ER aircraft for Virgin Australia. lso recommended are Los Angeles-based Raviv Surpin, who advises on a range of aircraft finance transactions; and Michael Draz, a specialist in transaction structures, and commercial aircraft deal expert Mark Ditto, both of whom are based in Chicago. New York-based Justine Chilvers is 'an excellent associate'.

Practice head(s):

Geoffrey Kass

Other key lawyers:

Adam Beringer; Jeffrey Veber; Cameron Gee; Raviv Surpin; Michael Draz; Mark Ditto; Justine Chilvers; James Kilner

Testimonials

The team is very strong; it is one of the key law firms in the market working on a lot of different projects, so has an excellent understanding of the market. The attorneys also represent excellent value for money.

Cameron Gee is one of the best, if not the best, aviation lawyers I have worked with. He is not only competent but also very creative and solutions driven.

Michael Edelman from the bankruptcy team is extremely knowledgeable and stands out against other lawyers.

Justine Chilvers is an excellent associate.

Key clients

Air Canada

Aero Capital Solutions

Allegiant Travel Company

Aviation Capital Group LLC

Castlelake, L.P.

Export Development Canada

Export – Import Bank of the United States

Investec Bank Limited

ITE Management

MUFG Bank, Ltd.

SKY Leasing

Southwest Airlines Co.

Stonebriar Commercial Finance

Work highlights

  • Represented Southwest Airlines in the $815m sale and leaseback of 10x 737-8 aircraft transactions with Bank of China Aviation.
  • Represented ACS in a $750m warehouse financing facility, which was completed in connection with the launch of its second aviation fund.
  • Represented Deutsche Bank (as arranger) and a syndicate of lenders, in a $600m limited recourse revolving warehouse credit facility.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP's practice covers the full range of aviation transactional matters. The group is jointly led by Brian Liu and  Paul Brusiloff. Liu advises on all aspects of aviation and equipment finance, and recently led advice to JetBlue Airways on its $808m offering of EETCs; while Brusiloff represents airlines and other borrowers in complex debt and equity financing and refinancing, and recapitalization and restructuring transactions, and represented American Airlines in the sale and leaseback of 22 Boeing Dreamliner aircraft. Also highly rated is Raymond Wells, whose broad expertise includes corporate financing and aircraft financing. All named practitioners are based in New York.

Practice head(s):

Brian Liu; Paul Brusiloff

Other key lawyers:

Raymond Wells

Key clients

AAR CORP

Alaska Airlines

American Airlines

JetBlue Airways

Spirit Airlines

Work highlights

  • Advised Alaska Airlines on its $1.2bn inaugural EETC offering.
  • Represented JetBlue Airways in its $1bn delayed draw term loan credit facility.
  • Representing American Airlines in connection with the sale and leaseback of 22 Boeing Dreamliner aircraft.

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP is consistently involved in all manner of aviation finance structures, including many first in-kind transactions, as well as several of the market’s largest ABS and EETC transactions. New York-based John Hoyns and Steven Chung in Washington DC co-chair the aviation practice, and are both recognized for their experience in complex aircraft and equipment financing transactions. In Miami, Mark Denham led advice to United Airlines on a $325m secured convertible financing for Latin American carrier Avianca Holdings. Andrew Fowler and Terry Sanders are additional key contacts in New York. Cynthia Liu in Washington DC and New York-based Sean Murphy   are experienced senior associates.

Practice head(s):

John Hoyns; Steven Chung

Other key lawyers:

Mark Denham; Andrew Fowler;  Terry Sanders; Cynthia Liu; Sean Murphy

Key clients

Delta Air Lines, Inc.

United Airlines, Inc.

Griffin Global Asset Management LLC

Air Lease Corporation

Hawaiian Airlines

Republic Airways

Sun Country Airlines

Sculptor Capital Management

BNP Paribas

Goldman Sachs

Wells Fargo

Credit Suisse

Morgan Stanley

Tennenbaum Capital Partners

Citibank

Milbank

Based in New York, the team at Milbank has been involved in innovative aircraft financings. In particular, Drew Fine (chair of the firm's finance practice) has worked on several of the market's most significant ABS transactions and financings involving aircraft. He has also participated in the evolution of EETCs over the years. Alongside Freyda Mechlowicz, Fine recently advised the initial purchasers on a large Rule 144A/Regulation S offering of senior notes by Delta Air Lines (Delta) and a subsidiary of Delta. James Pascale's past experience includes advising the initial purchasers on a $850m senior notes offering by Spirit Airlines Subsidiaries. Helfried Schwarz took an in-house position at ORIX Aviation in February 2021.

Practice head(s):

Drew Fine

Other key lawyers:

James Pascale; Patrick Campbell 

Norton Rose Fulbright

The team at Norton Rose Fulbright is recognized for providing 'personal attention with high levels of expertise and experience'. The US aviation group has longstanding experience in advising on all sides of aviation finance transactions. Aviation head Alyssa Vazquez is widely respected for her experience in aircraft acquisition, leasing and finance transactions; Sean Corrigan recently assisted DVB Bank SE with the transfer of its aviation lending platform and loan portfolio to MUFG Bank; and James Tussing is 'always responsive and very knowledgeable'. Bringing extensive aviation sector experience, Fiona Henderson was hired as senior counsel in July 2020 from Clifford Chance. All named individuals are based in New York.

Practice head(s):

Alyssa Vazquez; Sean Corrigan; James Tussing

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Henderson

Testimonials

Personal attention with high levels of expertise and experience.

James Tussing is always responsive and very knowledgeable.

Key clients

Carlyle Aviation Group, LLC

Willis Lease Finance Corporation

LATAM Airlines

Aircastle Advisors

DVB Bank SE

Air Canada

Emirates

Mitsui & Co. Ltd.

KGAL – GOAL

DHL Network Operations (USA), Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised Willis Lease Finance Corporation on an ABS transaction involving the issuance of bonds,  which were secured by approximately 54 leased aircraft engines and three leased aircraft.
  • Advised DVB Bank SE on the transfer of its entire aviation lending platform and loan portfolio to MUFG Bank.

Katten

Katten's aviation team advises on the full range of transactions, as well as on administrative and regulatory matters and commercial and bankruptcy litigation. Aviation chair Timothy Lynes has spent over 30 years advising on the sale, leasing and financing of aircraft; and Thomas Healey regularly closes aviation deals involving lease novations, loans and aircraft fleet orders. In the firm's New York office, Stewart Herman concentrates on commercial and business aircraft transactions. Brett Seifarth is a standout associate in the team. All attorneys listed are based in Washington DC unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Timothy Lynes

Other key lawyers:

Thomas Healey; Stewart Herman; Brett Seifarth

Key clients

Embraer S.A.

Yaborã Indústria Aeronáutica S.A

Work highlights

  • Represented Embraer in the off-lease sales of 48 EMB-145XR aircraft and the beneficial interest transfers in 33 EMB-145XR aircraft to United Airlines.
  • Represented Yaborã Indústria Aeronáutica (and its parent company Embraer) in the delivery financing of 10 Yaborã 175 LL aircraft to United Airlines.
  • Represents Embraer in the ongoing negotiation of a purchase agreement between Embraer and SkyWest, which concerns SkyWest’s purchase of over 100 aircraft.

McGuireWoods LLP

McGuireWoods LLP's aviation team is regularly sought out for its expertise in corporate aircraft financing, leasing, purchasing and selling, as well as for its experience in the acquisition, disposition and management of commercial aircraft portfolios. Charlotte-based practice head Patricia Hosmer concentrates her practice on transactions involving aviation assets and other equipment. Acting for airlines, aircraft leasing companies, financial institutions and investment funds, Deepak Reddy in New York is widely esteemed for his advice on financing, restructuring and leasing transactions involving commercial aircraft. Peter Szurley is the key contact in San Francisco.

Practice head(s):

Patricia Hosmer

Other key lawyers:

Deepak Reddy; Peter Szurley; David Whelpley Jr

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP

Charlotta Otterbeck 's global asset finance practice represents both global airline clients and top financial institutions, but is most active in the lessor financing space and in bank-side representations. Global head of finance Mark Lessard   has placed, financed and repossessed aviation assets in dozens of jurisdictions; and Melissa Jones-Prus  focuses on the financing, leasing and trading of aircraft and other aviation assets. Noted for finance and leasing transactions involving commercial aircraft and private jets, Richard Evans  in Los Angeles was made partner in January 2020, while former partner Charlotta Otterbeck   retired from the practice in December of 2020. All individuals mentioned are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Graham Tyler; Paul Jebely; Mark Lessard

Other key lawyers:

Richard Evans

Key clients

Atlas Air

Titan Aviation Leasing

Air Lease Corporation

KfW IPEX Bank

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Mizuho Securities

Export Development Canada

Bank of America

Aviation Capital Group

Credit Agricole – Corporate and Investment Bank

BNP Paribas

Work highlights

  • Acting for Atlas Air’s captive leasing arm, Titan Aviation, in connection with a $400m equity raise from Bain Capital into a sidecar that will invest in widebody and narrowbody cargo aircraft.
  • Advised various lender groups on the out of court restructurings by Avianca for several debt facilities (valued at over $500m).
  • Acted for Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, BofA Securities, MUFG Securities Americas and Wells Fargo Securities (as underwriters) in connection with $366.2m Willis Engine Structured Trust V (WEST V) fixed rates notes.

White & Case LLP

White & Case LLP’s aircraft industry clients benefit from the firm's long history in aircraft finance and aviation industry matters. New York-based Michael Smith   concentrates on aircraft finance and equipment leasing transactions; and asset finance partner Todd Wolynski  has significant experience in advising various players in the aviation industry. In Miami, Christian Hansen   has a vibrant Latin America practice, and advises airlines and financial institutions on complex structures including Japanese Operating Leases with Call Options (JOLCOs) and loan financings; and Anna Andreeva 's practice includes asset finance and equipment leasing deals.

Practice head(s):

Justin Benson

Other key lawyers:

Michael Smith; Christian Hansen; Anna Andreeva

Key clients

JetBlue Airways Corporation

Carlyle Aviation Partners

Aeromexico

DVB Bank

Avolon Aerospace Leasing

Ares Management

Avianca

CACIB

BNDES

BBAM Aircraft Management

King & Spalding LLP

King & Spalding LLP is best known for its business aircraft acquisition, disposition and financing practice, which ranges from operating and finance lease structures to multi-step, international transactions. The team was recently active in representing both recipients and lenders in relation to aviation-related CARES Act proceeds. In Charlotte, Jason Huff is transportation finance head, and Chris Buchanan's experience includes aircraft-related financing structures. Atlanta-based Carolyn Alford leads the finance practice.

Practice head(s):

Carolyn Alford

Other key lawyers:

Jason Huff; Chris Buchanan; Mickey Jett; Derek Marks

Key clients

G2 Secure Staff L.L.C.

DAL Global Services LLC

Embraer Executive Aircraft, Inc.

AAW Holdings, LLC

Work highlights

  • Represented DAL Global Services (and two related companies) in applying for Air Carrier Worker Support Program funds.
  • Represented G2 in applying for Air Carrier Worker Support Program funds.
  • Advised, as outside counsel, Embraer Executive Aircraft (as borrower) on a loan agreement with Apple Bank for Savings (as lender).

Winston & Strawn LLP

Continuously active in cutting-edge aircraft finance transactions, Winston & Strawn LLP's team focuses on high-level capital markets, finance, and restructuring work for some of the market's most active finance and leasing companies. Chicago-based Michael O’Brien chairs the aviation finance practice, which also features Pete Morgan and David Neier, who regularly handle aviation finance-related deals. Also recommended is David Gillespie, who is experienced in commercial aircraft-related transactions. All individuals mentioned are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Michael O’Brien

Other key lawyers:

Pete Morgan; David Neier; David Gillespie; Cari Stinebower; Carrie Hardman

Key clients

Aviation Capital Group

MUFG

BNP Paribas

UK Export Finance

Euler Hermes Aktiengesellschaft

Bpifrance Assurance Export

Bouchard Transportation

Work highlights

  • Represented Aviation Capital Group in the securitization of a portfolio of 24 Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft.
  • Acted for Aviation Capital Group in connection with the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings of Miami Air International.
  • Advised MUFG (as facility agent and lender) on the JOLCO financing of six Airbus A320 aircraft for LATAM Airlines Group.