We have a dedicated team of aviation lawyers with broad experience in a wide range of legal disciplines relevant to the global aviation industry. Mayer Brown provides legal services to key players in the aviation industry across the globe. We have a strong reputation for successfully advising airlines, manufacturers, lenders, lessors and airport and aviation authorities on all aspects of their operations.
We understand what it takes to operate successfully in the aviation industry, and we know the legal considerations that our clients must take into account.
The aviation industry’s leading businesses are quick to respond to change. They are commercially dynamic and flexible, despite the financially complex and heavily regulated global landscape within which they operate. Their partners must be able to keep pace with them and provide a truly global service, advising on matters that affect the long-term profitability and direction of their business.
Mayer Brown deploys teams of experienced, pragmatic and strategically astute lawyers in the world’s financial centers and across primary territories for the aviation industry. Many of these individuals are leading practitioners in their space who can access the firm’s wealth of capabilities, leverage its platforms on behalf of aviation clients and innovate when the solution requires it.
We offer legal services in a range of areas, including the following:
- Airports and airport infrastructure
- Corporate finance
- Mergers and acquisitions
- International trade controls and regulation
- Antitrust and competition
- Intellectual property protection and litigation
- Aircraft acquisition and disposal
- Aircraft financing
- Operating leasing
- Business aviation
- Rotary wing
- Dispute resolution and repossession
Mayer Brown is recognized as a market-leading law firm in airport infrastructure projects, including privatization and public-private partnership (PPP) transactions. We are often considered the ”first-choice” adviser for innovative projects worldwide.
Across the globe, we have negotiated airport use agreements that serve as key elements of financing security for major airport capital projects. We have experience dealing with all aspects of airport financing, airline relationships and airport contracts in connection with the privatization of major airports.
Our Corporate & Securities and Capital Markets practices have assisted airports and airlines in connection with their raising of capital through corporate restructuring or securities issues. We assist well-established airlines on their corporate finance transactions and have a track record of successfully assisting managers, private equity funds and other investors on the structuring and equity financing of new airlines.
Mergers and Acquisitions
We have advised airlines and their shareholders on joint ventures, mergers and new operations, and on the disposal of part or all of their businesses. We have also advised lessors and financial institutions on purchases and sales of lessor equity interests and lease portfolios.
International Trade Controls and Regulation
We regularly advise key players in the aviation industry on cross-border trade compliance issues, including compliance with US and EU sanctions laws, negotiating contractual provisions on export controls, sanctions compliance and assisting with filings and clearance from CFIUS and other regulatory agencies in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.
Mayer Brown’s international trade practice also advises on international and local customs matters, including customs valuation rules, origin rules offering access to preferential trade and—significantly for the aviation industry—also on issues such as drawback systems, inward/outward processing, duty suspensions and other systems reducing the customs debt.
Antitrust and Competition
We have assisted clients (including airlines, airports, handlers and investors) in connection with the complex analysis of competition in the aviation sector. Our experience includes considering the consequences of, and obtaining approvals for, proposed corporate transactions. We are familiar with the approach taken by the most active competition authorities on the assessment of mergers, alliances and code-sharing agreements in this sector.
Intellectual Property Protection and Litigation
Mayer Brown’s Intellectual Property practice has extensive experience representing airlines and other aviation related clients in intellectual property matters including complicated patent, trademark or copyright matters.
For patent related matters, our representations have included major US and foreign airlines in such areas as weather detection sensors, wireless cockpits, in-air Wi-Fi, in-flight entertainment services via mobile and other devices, mobile boarding passes, loyalty reward miles programs, and general website functionality involving scheduling and booking a flight and other functions. We are also heavily involved in brand management and copyright matters impacting airlines. We have advised our clients on copyright issues involving in-flight music and entertainment, and other related issues.
Aircraft Acquisition and Disposal
We are experienced in the full spectrum of issues related to aircraft acquisition and disposal, including negotiating new aircraft purchase agreements with all the major manufacturers; negotiating a broad range of engine-related documentation, including GTAs, guarantees, warranties, product support and long-term engine maintenance agreements with all the major engine OEMs; used aircraft experience; and experience in the acquisition and disposal of lease portfolios by lessors and financial institutions.
Our aircraft finance group combines lawyers from our Asset Finance and Capital Markets practices across the firm. Their experience has been gained advising airlines, lessors and financial institutions on a variety of financing and treasury activities involving commercial aircraft as well as aircraft engines, including sale and lease back financing; lease financing; secured debt financing; capital markets; export credit financing; pre-delivery payments financing; unsecured loans and lines of credit; tax-driven financing; off-balance sheet financing; and currency, interest rate and fuel-hedging activities.
We have extensive experience negotiating operating leases, both for lessors and for airlines, and are familiar with the inherent pitfalls and hurdles. Our experience representing financiers enables us to ensure that a lessor obtains a “bankable” operating lease. Our experience representing MROs on maintenance-related matters enables us to identify key operational and technical matters that impact the value of a particular transaction. This same experience provides considerable value to our airline clients.
Mayer Brown’s extensive knowledge of operational and technical matters has its foundation in our participation in a wide range of aviation-engineering-related transactions. Our experience includes negotiating and documenting maintenance agreements, completion and re-configuration arrangements, passenger-to-freighter conversion contracts, base maintenance agreements, power-by-the-hour agreements and engine fleet management programs, engine and spare-part pooling agreements, spare-part consignment agreements and delivery/return conditions for used aircraft.
We have one of the world’s most active business aviation legal practices. We can advise our clients on all aspects of a business jet transaction, from ownership structures to financing arrangements, tax and customs aspects, the choice of the place of registration, the operation and management of the aircraft and its ultimate disposal.
Our lawyers have extensive experience advising operators, lessors and lenders on the purchase, financing and leasing of helicopters. We have acted on transactions involving a variety of aircraft, from heavy lift offshore helicopters to lighter EMS helicopters and VIP configured machines. We are familiar with the fly-by-the-hour and pay-by-the-hour maintenance contracts from all the major OEMs and the security that lenders and lessee often take over such complex arrangements.
We are very familiar with the regulatory aspects of air transportation. Our experience includes assisting airlines on the application for, and subsequent changes to, their air operator’s certificate and operating licenses, analyzing the impact of consolidation and restructuring of airlines on their regulatory approvals under applicable EASA regulations and advising investors and airlines on aero-political issues associated with cross-border investments in airlines and the related impact on air service agreements.
Dispute Resolution & Repossession
We advise clients on the strengths and weaknesses of their position and assess the options at each stage of the litigation cycle, to enhance the prospects of a favorable outcome. We have the resources to identify and adopt a strategic and cost-effective approach to resolving any case, ranging from a simple debt collection to formulating a complex litigation strategy.
Our practice has solid, hands-on local and regional experience, built over decades, offering administrative law and judicial review, arbitration and mediation, employment, insolvency, probate and estates, and tax and trusts and white-collar and civil fraud. We have also assisted lenders, owners and lessors on the repossession of many aircraft in sometimes challenging jurisdictions.
What the directories say:
Ranked Band 1 Aviation Finance (International Firms) (China) - Chambers Greater China Region (2022)
Ranked Band 1 Aviation Finance (International Firms) (China) - Chambers Asia Pacific (2010-2021)
Ranked Band 2 for Aviation: Finance (Asia-Pacific Region) - Chambers Asia Pacific (2015-2022)
Ranked Tier 1 Asset Finance (Aviation Finance)(Hong Kong) - The Legal 500 Asia Pacific (2007-2013, 2015-2021)
"Mayer Brown’s aviation leasing team is exceptional. They bring a deep knowledge of both the legal and business perspectives and have a wealth of experience. We could not have successfully completed our transactions without them." - The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022
“[T]echnical expertise, service level and responsiveness.” - Chambers Asia Pacific 2022
"They have a very deep knowledge of the sector," - Chambers Asia Pacific 2022
"They are very well informed about the market" - Chambers Asia Pacific 2022
"[H]ighly responsive and reactive." - Chambers Asia Pacific 2022
"Their performance is absolutely outstanding," - Chambers Greater China Region 2022
"[C]onsistently excellent quality of advice and documentation, with deep-rooted industry knowledge and comprehension of aviation trends." - Chambers Greater China Region 2022
"Mayer Brown’s Hong Kong aviation practice has developed a deep knowledge of the business jet realm and various financing structures." - The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2021
"They are able to easily understand what is at stake and stand out in terms of the quality of their drafting." - Chambers Asia Pacific 2021
"They are experienced, efficient and a safe pair of hands." - Chambers Asia Pacific 2021
“They stand out for their excellent knowledge of the aviation space and of key stakeholders, underpinned by long-standing industry experience, drafting quality and speed and reliability of execution." - Chambers Asia Pacific 2020
"They're absolutely responsive, proactive, pragmatic and commercial, and they provide the full service. You need the expert advice but you also need the support for them to go off and deliver on time. They all go the extra mile and they're absolute subject experts in what they do." - Chambers Asia Pacific 2019
"They have strong commercial sense, providing both legal and commercial guidance" - Chambers Asia Pacific 2019
"proactive and responsive," and “They can anticipate all parties' needs and constraints and are well aware of our expectations and policies." - Chambers Asia Pacific 2019