Our Transportation Practice has served as general counsel to trucking companies, bus lines and air carriers, representing them before numerous federal and state regulatory agencies. Our experience in common carrier representation includes general corporate work, securities matters, antitrust, federal, state and local taxation, labor and mergers and acquisitions, as well as extensive regulatory activity.
Air Transport Law
Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP has one of the longest-standing aviation practices in the United States. Since 1920s, we have been known for our specialty in aviation law representing Eastern Airlines from its inception in 1927 until the merger with Texas Air Corporation in 1986. Over the years, Smith, Gambrell and Russell has greatly broadened its industry representation to include lessors, financiers, aircraft owners and other airlines in their domestic and international aircraft transactions, including direct purchases, sales and sale and leasebacks with various kinds of debt financing, leveraged and operating leases.
Smith, Gambrell & Russell currently represents, among others, AirTran Airways, Mesa Airlines, Avianca, Skybus, SAM, Frontier Airlines, VARIGLOG, Aires, vivaAeroBus, OceanAir, VIPSA and Wayraperú in aircraft acquisition and financing transactions. Past airline clients have also included Continental Airlines and Western Pacific Airlines in equipment financing transactions, Meridiana SpA in aircraft acquisition transactions and Trans World Airlines in financing, restructuring and a prepackaged Chapter 11 reorganization case. In addition, the Firm also represents several manufacturers of specialized aircraft and aircraft parts, including Goodrich Corporation, and we formerly represented one of the largest worldwide independent overhaulers of aircraft engines.
We also regularly represent major aircraft lessors and financiers of various types of flight equipment. Clients have included Bank of America, CIT Group, RPK Capital Management, Caterpillar Financial Services, Aerglobe Management Group and TransAtlantic Aviation in connection with the acquisition, disposition, financing and leasing of various aircraft.
SGR has long provided representation in the specialized area of real estate legal services for railroads. For example, we currently provide comprehensive representation to Norfolk Southern Railroad and its subsidiaries, including the Georgia Southern and Florida Railway, in the area of real estate law. This work includes large scale real estate development, mixed use development, land use, permitting, zoning and environmental work. We also work on promoting the interests of our railroad clients in state legislatures. Additionally, SGR attorneys have significant expertise in other areas of critical importance to railroads, including product liability, accidents, personal injury, regulatory matters, homeland security, employment, tax law and administrative law. Further, SGR antitrust attorneys have been following the current legislative efforts to amend the federal antitrust laws so as to remove many of the exemptions that railroads have long enjoyed. Thus, in the event that this legislation becomes law, we will be uniquely positioned to provide counseling, compliance and litigation services to railroads in the areas of antitrust and trade regulation.
Automobile and Bus Manufacturing
When a major Korean automobile manufacturer was considering Georgia as the location for its new assembly plant, the State of Georgia and various local governments promised a substantial package of incentives, including property tax abatements, to lure the company to the Peach state. The client ultimately chose Georgia and engaged SGR to make the promised tax abatements a reality. SGR worked with the local governments and the local development authority to put in place a $1.1 billion bond issue structured to provide the client with the property tax benefits. Since that initial involvement in the bond transaction, the relationship between the client and SGR has broadened so that SGR now provides ongoing representation and advice to the client and its affiliated companies in a wide range of areas, including general corporate matters, incentives, immigration, tax, real estate, construction, customs, financing, labor and employment, intellectual property and government regulatory matters.
SGR has also represented Blue Bird Corporation, the nation’s largest school bus manufacturer, for 40 years. That work has included antitrust, products-liability, environmental and regulatory issues. Given the nature of the passengers, school bus transportation is heavily regulated – making it statistically the safest form of motor transportation in the nation. The work for Blue Bird has provided considerable experience in regulations administered by NHTSA (the Natiional Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and investigations by NTSB (the National Transportation Safety Board).
SGR has extensive experience representing publicly held truckload and specialized common carriers, including representation in securities law matters and compliance, public offerings, private placements, general corporate law, selective regulatory matters and mergers and acquisitions.
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
At SGR, we provide a wide array of homeland security and governmental affairs services to our clients. Our attorneys have experience working with federal government officials, including those at the Departments of Homeland Security and Transportation. Additionally, we provide regulatory advocacy services for proposed regulations and compliance assistance for existing regulations that affect our clients. We can also assist with preparing our clients for testimony before the U.S. Congress.