O’Melveny Worldwide


With a hard-earned track record that stretches back six decades, O’Melveny is the counsel of choice for the biggest names in aviation.

Aviation Year in Review: Transactions and Litigation Highlights

With a hard-earned track record that stretches back six decades, O’Melveny is the counsel of choice for the biggest names in aviation.

Aviation Year in Review: Transactions and Litigation Highlights

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.

Airlines for America

Achieved a trial victory in a declaratory judgment action challenging the application of the State of Massachusetts’ paid sick leave law on the ground that the law is preempted by the federal Airline Deregulation Law.

Alaska Airlines

Advised Alaska on its proposed US$1.9 billion acquisition of Hawaiian Airlines.

American Airlines

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.

American Airlines

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.

American Airlines

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.

American Airlines

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.

American Airlines and United Airlines

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).

Avports LLC

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 on a US$1.4 billion term loan credit agreement with a new leasing vehicle and the acquisition of a portfolio of 70 aircraft.

Designated Lenders Counsel

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.

JFK Airport Redevelopment

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.

JP Morgan

Advised on acquisitions and dispositions under a US$600 million revolving credit facility with a US aircraft lessor involving more than 30 aircraft.

LaGuardia Gateway Partners

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.

United Airlines

Achieved a win in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a putative class action brought by mechanics against their union and United, alleging that the airline violated the mechanics’ collective bargaining agreement and ERISA by certain actions related to the airline’s retirement plans and colluded with the union.

Representative Clients
Airlines for America
American Airlines
Atlas Air
Delta Air Lines
Frontier Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines
Jackson Square Aviation
LaGuardia Gateway Partners
Morgan Stanley
National Westminster Bank
Orix Aviation
Republic Airways
Regional Airports Improvement
Southwest Airlines
Spirit Airlines
Surf Air Mobility
Vantage Airport Group
UMB Bank
United Airlines

Five-time Winner, Transportation Group of the Year

—Law360 (2017-20, 2023)

The Legal 500 US: O’Melveny recommended for aviation litigation, regulation, and labor-management relations:

  • “With significant regulatory knowledge, litigation experience and a widely respected Railway Labor Act (RLA) practice, O'Melveny ’s aviation litigation practice is sought out by major airline industry clients to handle high-stakes disputes.”
  • O’Melveny “maintains its reputation as a strong Railway Labor Act practice and is noted for its particular expertise in the aviation sector, handling a full-range of labor-related issues related to M&A, labor disputes and unfair labor practice charges.”
  • “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.” – client testimonial

O’Melveny considered “a pacesetter in the world of aviation transport infrastructure development. Their knowledge of the aviation industry and airport authorities is legendary.”

—Chambers USA

O’Melveny praised for its “notable expertise in the issues affecting airlines under the Railway Labor Act.”

Chambers USA

Named a “Firm to Watch” for aviation finance 

—Legal 500 US