The aviation industry is now relatively stable following a sustained period of top-line revenue growth driven by record passenger numbers. Fleet expansion and renewal – particularly in Asia and the Middle East – have driven the order books for new deliveries markedly higher, with Boeing and Airbus reporting notable order backlogs. At a time when airlines and operating lessors alike face significant decisions in funding their respective capital expenditure programs, liquidity levels from traditional financiers have recovered and attractive terms are available for many operators.

Despite this apparent stability, stakeholders face a variety of uncertainties as the aviation industry continues to evolve. The sheer volume of projected deliveries requires consideration of the benefits of diversifying funding sources. The regulatory environment is changing in various markets, and the risk of disruption with respect to geopolitical events remains. In addressing these challenges at a time when deals and transactions are increasing in size and complexity, our lawyers provide clients with invaluable insight into the international aviation industry.

Supporting our clients as they optimize their strategies

We have substantial experience and knowledge in the commercial aviation sector. The experience we have developed in representing airlines and operating lessors, their debt and equity financiers, manufacturers and multiple export credit agencies (“ECAs”) throughout our global network gives us a clear understanding and perspective of the myriad issues that successful financings in this sector must creatively and effectively address.

The aviation business and our role – navigating complexity

Our global platform, cross-disciplinary approach and substantial industry knowledge combine to put us in a unique position to navigate the complexities our clients are facing.

Our lawyers have substantial experience in all products deployed or utilized in complex structured financings in this sector, including enhanced equipment trust certificate (EETC) financings, asset-based securitization (ABS) transactions, warehouse loan facilities and pre-delivery payment (PDP) financings. We have experience in all types of Japanese operating lease transactions (JOLs and JOLCOs), have advised and represented clients on equity and debt raises in the US capital markets and have advised and represented numerous clients in connection with high-profile airline bankruptcies and restructurings. We also routinely advise on acquisitions of and/or investments in aircraft leasing companies and aircraft portfolios, secured and unsecured bridge and revolving credit financings, non-US dollar capital raises, all aspects of ECA-supported and manufacturer financings, private jet financings and a wide range of regulatory and asset repossession matters.

In addition to our transactional work, White & Case provides its aircraft clients with a broad range of litigation and dispute resolution services. We advise owners, lessors, lenders and guarantors in the planning and exercise of remedies in connection with failed or defaulted financings, including the pursuit of actions for damages or specific performance in appropriate courts and arbitration tribunals. Our litigators have coordinated the arrest and repossession of aircraft in the United States and Europe and have pursued litigation for clients (both lessors and lessees) in several situations arising out of disputes over lease return and maintenance provisions. Our bankruptcy lawyers have significant experience representing aircraft clients in bankruptcy courts and in related federal and state court litigation.

We are recognized as one of the few firms with established knowledge and experience in the developing market for the commercial financing of helicopter fleets, an emerging sector.