Cleary Gottlieb has been at the forefront of aviation law for more than half a century, representing pioneering U.S. airlines and working on the current consolidation and restructuring of the industry.

Aviation can be a volatile business, but our commitment and knowledgeable representation has expanded Cleary’s work to include clients based in over 20 countries. Our team has advised on more than $40 billion in offerings by participants in the airline industry segment since the 1990s, and we have been involved in over 14 airline restructurings and bankruptcies worldwide.

Lawyers from our across the firm’s practice areas and global offices work cooperatively to advise aviation clients on a variety of matters, including:

  • Privatization of state-owned airlines and airports
  • Capital purchasing and financing
  • Structuring stock options
  • Mergers, acquisitions, investments and joint ventures
  • Antitrust/competition law advice on transactions and allegations of anticompetitive conduct
  • Equity and debt offerings, including initial public offerings
  • Secured transactions
  • Negotiating company alliances
  • Increasing international access to airports
  • Technology transfer arrangements
  • Labor negotiations and disputes
  • Litigation and arbitration
  • Bankruptcy and restructuring

Notable Experience

  • Aeroports de Paris in its €1.3 billion IPO.

  • American Express in its $1 billion purchase of Delta Skymiles from Delta Airlines through the multiyear extension of its Co-brand Credit Card partnerships with Delta.

  • Citigroup and Morgan Stanley as underwriters in the $187 million SEC-registered IPO of Spirit Airlines.

  • Continental Airlines in a broad range of corporate and financing activities, including the issuance of equity and secured and unsecured debt securities, the renegotiation of various loan agreements, litigations, e-commerce, executive compensation and corporate governance matters.

  • The IPO of Panamanian airline Copa, one of the first Panamanian companies to be listed on the NYSE, and in the subsequent SEC-registered follow-on offerings. 

  • Delta Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilot Association in the $3 billion combination of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines.

  • Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries Alenia Aeronautica and Alenia Aermacchi in hi-tech industrial partnerships in the aerospace sector with Mubadala Development Company, including the creation of a joint venture in the UAE to construct and operate a final assembly line for the advance lead-in fighter trainer M-346.

  • The Government of Gabon and the Islamic Development Bank in connection with the structuring of a public-private partnership for the construction of the new Libreville international airport.

  • Hainan Airlines in its acquisition of a 48 percent stake in Aigle Azur Transports Aériens SAS.

  • Highstar Capital in its acquisition of a 25 percent stake in London City Airport from Global Infrastructure Partners.

  • Lighthouse Holdings in its $480 million acquisition of American Beacon Advisors from AMR Corporation, the parent of American Airlines. 

  • UTC on the EU antitrust aspects of its $18.4 billion acquisition of Goodrich, the largest aerospace transaction ever completed and the largest acquisition in UTC’s history.

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Publications