Infrastructure and Transportation > Aviation

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP represents clients in all areas of the domestic and international aviation industry, including scheduled and on-demand air carriers, aircraft and helicopter financiers and lessors, and providers of a broad range of aviation manufacturing and support services, as well as individual aircraft and airport operators. Akin Gump efficiently addresses all of our clients’ aviation-specific transactional, regulatory, corporate governance, risk and crisis management, tax, bankruptcy, litigation, and public law and policy issues as they arise.

Aviation Transactions

Akin Gump handles all types of aircraft finance transactions. Our broad experience includes representing:

  • several major air carriers in fleet acquisition, sales and leasing transactions, as well as general procurement
  • major multinational aircraft, helicopter and engine leasing companies
  • lenders and borrowers in conventional secured financings and complex leverage lease transactions
  • hedge funds, private equity funds, Business Development Companies and their affiliates engaged in aircraft portfolio acquisition and leasing transactions
  • institutional investors and liquidity facility providers in aircraft and lease securitizations
  • numerous domestic and foreign corporations and individuals in their whole and fractional aircraft purchases and sales
  • investors in unconventional aircraft finance and operational environments, including Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Slovakia.

The firm also has significant experience in negotiating a broad range of aviation operational agreements, including various types of:

  • aircraft chartering and operational lease agreements
  • aircraft management, maintenance and refurbishment agreements
  • aircraft, air charter and air cargo brokering agreements, including both traditional and Internet-based brokerage programs.

Our aviation transactional experience includes our representation of:

  • large publically-traded Business Development Companies in the formation of turn-key aircraft leasing companies and aircraft acquisition and leasing transactions in respect thereof
  • an Abu Dhabi-based aviation company in connection with:
    • the formation of its U.S. subsidiary
    • the acquisition and remarketing of helicopters
  • the largest worldwide aircraft leasing company in the divestiture of narrow-body and wide-body passenger aircraft on lease to air carriers in the U.S., Europe and Asia; the sale-leaseback of cargo aircraft; and the operating lease of new wide-body passenger aircraft
  • a U.S. passenger airline in the acquisition of new fleets of Boeing and Airbus aircraft, including representation on pre-delivery manufacturer-supported financing, permanent leveraged lease financing, operating leases and engine purchase and power-by-the-hour agreements
  • a U.S. cargo airline in the acquisition of a new fleet of Boeing aircraft through operating leases
  • a Pacific Rim airline in the acquisition, financing, maintenance and disposition of its aircraft and spare engines
  • leasing companies in purchasing, leasing and financing aircraft and helicopters in their fleet
  • controlling classes of noteholders in aircraft and lease capital market securitizations
  • liquidity facility providers in aircraft and lease capital market and private placement securitizations
  • institutional investors in public debt secured by aviation assets
  • U.S. and international companies providing aircraft maintenance and modification services
  • an air cargo carrier in the negotiation of aircraft maintenance and modification agreements for routine Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-required “C” and “D Checks” and for cargo door conversions on single-aisle aircraft.

Aviation Bankruptcies

Akin Gump is a market leader in the representation of creditors, debtors, secured lenders, trustees and other parties in the restructuring process, including in connection with numerous high-profile aviation industry bankruptcies, including:

  • represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of one of the world’s largest airlines
  • represented a major U.S.-based airline as the debtor in its chapter 11 case
  • represented a regional U.S.-based airline in its chapter 11 case
  • represented the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of the 10th-largest U.S. passenger airline
  • represented an informal secured EETC and ETC committee of a major international airline
  • served as reorganization counsel to the examiner in an airlines chapter 11 case
  • worked extensively on airline labor issues in the reorganization of an international passenger airline
  • represented the largest aircraft lessors in a regional airline’s chapter 11 case
  • represented institutional investors and liquidity providers in many major, cargo and regional airline chapter 11 cases.

Aviation Policy and Legislation

In the legislative arena, aviation clients have called upon Akin Gump to undertake a variety of projects advocating the policy interests of the aviation industry. These matters have included:

  • supporting applications for international route transfer
  • advancing legal and public policy arguments in the context of bilateral negotiations
  • countering attempts to regulate the computerized reservation system industry
  • promoting legislation and regulations to increase airport slot allocations.
  • The firm has also advocated for our clients’ interest in legislation to reauthorize the FAA and has been involved in issues such as airport security, passenger facility charges and the Passenger Bill of Rights.

Aviation Trial Advocacy

The firm actively represents aviation clients in a broad range of commercial, personal injury and bankruptcy litigation matters. This has included activity such as:

  • representing an aircraft after-market parts dealer in a lawsuit concerning the fraudulent repair and certification of engine parts
  • prosecuting a breach of contract matter involving the breach of a long-term aircraft lease
  • handling several bankruptcy matters involving fractional providers and major air carriers and their investors and creditors’ committees.

Aviation Tax Matters

Akin Gump has a diversified federal, state and local tax practice for the benefit of aviation industry clients. The firm provides comprehensive tax planning, administrative and tax controversy services with respect to:

  • federal transportation excise and fuel taxes
  • federal income tax, depreciation and like-kind exchange issues
  • state sales, use and property taxes that arise from the ownership and operation of corporate and commercial aircraft
  • structuring of cross-border aircraft ownership and leasing to maximize tax efficiency.