Overview

Nathan Leavitt is an asset finance attorney based in San Francisco. He focuses on representing commercial aircraft lessors and his clients include several of the top-10 largest lessors in the commercial aviation industry.

Portfolio transfers and financing for groups of more than 10 aircraft are a significant portion of Mr. Leavitt's practice. He has dedicated a considerable portion of his career to developing systems, procedures, technology and training that allow Holland & Knight's 30-plus aviation finance professionals that regularly work with him to rapidly and accurately negotiate and scale complex aviation finance documentation.

Mr. Leavitt regularly negotiates new aircraft operating lease agreements with airlines on behalf of lessors for everything from 737-400 cargo conversions to fleets of A350s and 787-900s. This includes negotiating Global Aircraft Trading System (GATS) compliant leases and placing aircraft into GATS structures.

Pre-delivery payment (PDP) financing is a regular component of Mr. Leavitt's practice, whether structured with an associated sale/leaseback or as stand-alone PDP financing. He has advised several participants in asset-backed securitization (ABS) for passenger aircraft, engines and cargo aircraft.

Servicing agreements – whether associated with ABS vehicles or for assets owned by a joint venture (JV), side-car or third-party investor – are contractual relationships on which Mr. Leavitt regularly advises both lessors and investors.

Default, repossession and remedies advice for lessors faced with defaulting lessees is also a regular part of Mr. Leavitt's practice. He has designed custom repossession and remedies strategies on numerous occasions to help lessors analyze not only their contractual rights, but also the practical and business considerations concomitant with exercising remedies. Often following a default, Mr. Leavitt has negotiated restructuring agreements for lessors to forebear exercising remedies in exchange for certain assurances and other consideration from the lessee. Mr. Leavitt has coordinated involuntary repossession plans by means of temporary restraining orders (TROs), injunctions, issuance of grounding orders and exercise of deregistration powers of attorney in multiple states throughout the U.S. and multiple countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America. And when an airline files bankruptcy, whether Chapter 11, 13 or 15 in the United States or in another jurisdiction, he has regularly been brought in to advise on the contractual rights, U.S. Bankruptcy Code 1110 issues and Cape Town Convention rights and remedies.

Mr. Leavitt began his career with Holland & Knight's aviation finance team in San Francisco. He spent 2014 and 2015 based in the firm's New York office. In 2017, he relocated to England to open the firm's London office and once established he returned to San Francisco.

Mr. Leavitt was a secondee with GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) working for their Latin America and Caribbean division.

Experience

  • Lead counsel for a 15 aircraft sale/leaseback transaction opposite a Colombian airline
  • Lead counsel to a seller in precedent-setting portfolio sale of A350-900, A320 and 737-800 aircraft utilizing Hong Kong leasing structures under Hong Kong's new tax concessions regime; transaction was named Overall Deal of the Year by Airfinance Journal China in 2018
  • Negotiated the sale of three Boeing 737-800s on lease to Southwest Airlines, structured as metal sales to replace a trust company exiting the owner trustee business 
  • Represented a lessor on the conditional sale of the beneficial interest in the owner trusts that own 10 Airbus A319 aircraft on lease to a major Latin American airline
  • Represented a lessor on a portfolio sale of 18 aircraft on lease to airlines in Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Sweden and Canada
  • Negotiated the sale of the beneficial interest in seven trusts that own Airbus A319 aircraft on lease to American Airlines
  • Advised a servicer for asset-backed securitization (ABS) vehicle on sale and novation of CFM56-7B engine on lease to Japanese airline
  • Advised a lessor on the acquisition, conversion, financing and leasing of a fleet of more than 40 Boeing 737-400 cargo aircraft for its private equity fund

  • Advised a lessor on Global Aircraft Trading System (GATS) compliant operating leases for eight Airbus A321NEOs opposite a Chilean airline
  • Advised a lessor on lease of pair of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to a Mexican airline
  • Negotiated leases for a fleet of 11 Embraer E2 aircraft for a lessor leasing to a Dutch airline

  • Represented a lessor in connection with the pre-delivery payment (PDP) financing for AeroMexico for five Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with a list price of more than $500 million
  • Counseled a lessor on a $500 million credit facility secured by a portfolio of aircraft on lease to seven different airlines
  • Represented a publicly traded aircraft leasing company in connection with a $225 million credit facility borrowed by one of its joint ventures secured by seven aircraft on lease to airlines in Brazil, Malaysia and Germany
  • Represented an aircraft lessor on the lease of three Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to British Airways and the related secured term-loan financing
  • Represented lessor on restructuring seven export credit agency (ECA) secured financing arrangements

  • Advised lessors on the restructuring of leases, pre-delivery payments (PDPs) and upcoming new deliveries for 22 aircraft on lease to a Colombian airline following comprehensive defaults on its obligations in 2019
  • Successfully advised multiple lessors on the recovery of 22 aircraft on lease to Oceanair airlines of Brazil after it filed bankruptcy in Brazil and a Chapter 15 in the U.S. in December 2018
  • Negotiated the restructuring and early return of 11 aircraft from Air Berlin in the lead up to, and following commencement of bankruptcy proceedings in Germany
  • Advised on the restructuring and recovery of aircraft from Mexicana Airlines on behalf of several lessors in the run up and following its declaration of bankruptcy (concurso mercantil) in 2010

Credentials

Education
  • St. Mary's University School of Law, J.D., cum laude
  • Whitworth College, B.A., Political Science
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • New York
Memberships
  • International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT)
  • International Bar Association, Aviation Law Committee
  • American Bar Association, Aviation Finance Subcommittee
  • Phi Delta Phi, Tarlton Inn, Magister
  • The Bar Association of San Francisco
Honors & Awards
  • Guide to the World’s Leading Aviation Lawyers, Legal Media Group’s Expert Guides, 2015, 2017-2020
  • The Legal 500 USA, Aviation and Air Travel: Finance, 2018-2020
  • Overall Deal of the Year, Airfinance Journal China, 2018
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Transportation: Aviation: Finance, 2015, 2016
  • Rising Star, Legal Media Group's Expert Guides, 2016
  • Aviation ABS Deal of the Year, Global Transport Finance, 2015
  • Debt Deal of the Year, Airline Economics, 2015
  • North American Deal of the Year, Airfinance Journal, 2015
  • Rising Star, Airfinance Journal, 2014
  • St. Mary's Law Journal, Associate Editor
  • St. Mary's Law Journal, Staff Writer
  • Angel Award Recipient for Pro Bono service, California Lawyer Magazine, 2008

Publications

Speaking Engagements

News