O’Melveny’s aviation practice is peerless. Our dedicated team of aviation lawyers represents nearly all the US passenger and cargo airlines, airport owners and operators, investors, and developers. Our clients trust us because we offer one of the few comprehensive legal platforms in the industry, with top-notch labor, antitrust, litigation, employment, infrastructure, and equipment finance support.
Labor. O’Melveny is the premier law firm for Railway Labor Act counseling and representation. For more than 40 years, we have advised passenger and cargo airlines and airline service companies on all aspects of the RLA. We advise airlines on the RLA consequences of merger transactions, represent them in proceedings before the National Mediation Board, arbitrate significant cases, litigate in federal court, and participate in collective bargaining negotiations. Over the past five years, our lawyers have represented US passenger and cargo airlines in more than 300 labor lawsuits, arbitrations, and collective-bargaining negotiations.
Antitrust. Having played a decisive role in every significant ownership change since the aviation industry was deregulated in 1978—including the US Airways–American Airlines merger, which created the world’s largest airline—we have the resources and know-how to help airlines obtain antitrust clearances and succeed in merger-related litigation.
Litigation. With O’Melveny’s litigation heft, it’s no surprise our aviation team ably guides airline clients in high-stakes consumer class action, air crash, passenger removal and general commercial litigation. We know that aviation litigation isn’t “run of the mill” and defend against unique claims, such as USERRA, and develop sophisticated complicated and sophisticated defenses, like those involving Airline Deregulation Act preemption.
Employment. We regularly counsel airlines on employment matters and represent them in wage and hour and discrimination litigation throughout the country. Our litigators have helped obtain dismissals of all or substantial portions of employment class actions, as well as successfully litigated to verdict complex and novel employment claims.
Infrastructure. Our aviation infrastructure lawyers represent airline sponsors, investor groups, and other stakeholders in financing and infrastructure projects at airports throughout the US. Their work has included the first-ever public bid to privatize a large hub airport in the US and the largest airport-sector public-private partnership in the world.
Financing. Our aircraft finance lawyers represent airlines, aircraft- and engine-leasing companies, trustees, banks, and private equity investors on the transfer, lease, use, and financing of aircraft and other transportation equipment.
Achieved a major victory for American Airlines when it secured a permanent injunction against unions representing American mechanics, which initiated slow-down efforts that led to the cancellation of 722 flights from the time American filed its lawsuit and the TRO was issued. The TRO enjoined the union and its members from slowing down in the performance of their job duties, refusing to accept overtime or assignments away from base as they would in the normal course, or otherwise interfering with American’s operations.
Obtained dismissal of a biometric privacy class claim in a first-of-its-kind decision, critically important to the industry as a whole, amid states’ increasing efforts to adopt biometric privacy laws.
Obtained summary judgment dismissal of a nationwide Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) collective action on behalf of more than 600 former flight attendants based on American’s implementation of Voluntary Early Out Programs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed this victory.
Secured a win for what was previously US Airways in a closely watched re-trial of a landmark monopolization and rule-of-reason two-sided market case brought against travel-booking company Sabre Corp.
Achieved a string of summary judgment victories for several major airlines in separate class actions alleging violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
Helped this client and the Tweed New Haven Airport Authority execute a 43-year Lease & Development Agreement for a major upgrade of the Connecticut airport. The transaction is structured as a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership (P3) between an airport and a private operator, making this an historic deal not only for Avports, but for the US aviation industry as a whole. We also represented Avports in negotiations with Avelo Airlines, a new mainline airline that will make Tweed its first East Coast base.
Advised this client, as facility agent and collateral agent, in connection with a term loan credit agreement with a new leasing vehicle and the acquisition of a portfolio of over 50 aircraft.
Advised bank lenders in the financing of over $2 billion of debt facilities for the acquisition of aircraft by major airlines including American, Atlas, Delta, DHL and Republic.
Represented investors and other participants in the planned US$18 billion redevelopment of passenger terminals at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. In November 2022, we finalized development arrangements and initial financing for the last piece of the redevelopment plan, a US$4.2 billion deal to develop a new Terminal 6, with construction beginning in early 2023. The first phase of the new Terminal 6 facilities is scheduled to open to the public in early 2026. The completed terminal, which will total more than one million square feet and include capacity for 10 gates, will provide an anchor for passenger travel on JFK’s north side. Our client JFK Millennium Partners—which includes Vantage Airport Group, American Triple I, RXR Realty LLC, and JetBlue Airways—has partnered with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the governmental agency that oversees JFK, to execute the project.
Guided this client in the redevelopment and operation of the Central Terminal at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on, among other issues, real estate development, corporate governance, leasing, financing, construction, and environmental matters. Construction on the Central Terminal was substantially completed in July 2022, and construction has begun on a new “central hall,” which will link the new terminal to other airport facilities.
Advised this client, as trustee, in connection with the formation of aircraft-backed securitizations totaling over $5 billion, as well as related aircraft acquisitions.
Obtained dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the Association of Flight Attendants alleging that United had violated the Railway Labor Act by investigating allegations that two flight attendants, who also served as union representatives, participated in a retaliation campaign against another United flight attendant.
Four-time Winner, Transportation Group of the Year
The Legal 500 US: O’Melveny recommended for aviation litigation, regulation, and labor-management relations:
- O’Melveny is “the premier advisor to the entire airline industry.”
- The group “has a very deep bench of attorneys who are very familiar with the unique labor and employment issues faced by airlines.”
- “The team has worked with so many airlines in the industry for so long, and has depth and knowledge about what to expect and how clients should best position themselves.”
- “They are extremely responsive and have a uniquely high level of understanding of our industry.”
O’Melveny considered “a pacesetter in the world of aviation transport infrastructure development. Their knowledge of the aviation industry and airport authorities is legendary.”
O’Melveny praised for its “notable expertise in the issues affecting airlines under the Railway Labor Act.”