Michael W. Smith

Partner, New York


Esteemed US practitioner Michael Smith receives high praise from market sources, who comment: “He is wonderful about ensuring that we get whatever we need whenever we need it.” They go on to say: “He is very supportive and he always makes himself available.”
Chambers USA 2016


Mike concentrates on aviation finance, equipment leasing, and other corporate and finance transactions. His aviation finance experience includes investments in distressed aviation assets and related debt, syndicated det secured by aircraft, loyalty and brand assets, US Treasury CARES Act grants and loans, US Ex-Im Bank and other export credit agency-supported transactions, AFIC-supported transactions, warehouse and other pooled asset-backed facilities, portfolio acquisitions and finance transactions, vendor finance matters, restructuring and bankruptcy matters, EETC transactions, securitizations, securities offerings and sales of lease receivables.

Mike has been identified as a leading aviation, transportation and asset finance lawyer in independent publications and surveys from Chambers, Legal 500, Euromoney plc, Who's Who Legal, US News—Best Lawyers and others.

Mike has worked on financings involving a wide range of assets, including aircraft and engines, helicopters, railroad rolling stock, air traffic control equipment, power plants, telecommunications equipment and semi-conductor production equipment. He also has experience in project finance, joint ventures, shipping, acquisition finance, trade receivables finance, venture capital and leveraged buyout transactions.

Mike was previously based in Greece, England, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Bars and Courts
New York State Bar
Duke University School of Law
University of Iowa


JetBlue Airways Corporation, as Borrower, in connection with its US$3.5 billion senior secured bridge loan commitment in support of its acquisition of Spirit Airlines.

A purchaser of class A, B and C Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificates financing more than 80 aircraft owned by Flexjet.

Ares Management in the acquisition of defaulted EETC debt instruments secured by aircraft, and the acquisition of the aircraft in foreclosure sales.

Funds managed by Ares Management in the formation of Vmo Aircraft Leasing L.P., to acquire and lease commercial aircraft.

FitzWalter Capital in the acquisition of defaulted debt obligations in connection with certain lease financings.

JetBlue in connection with a loan from the U.S. Department of Treasury under the United States Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES Act").

JetBlue in connection with certain transactions with the U.S. Department of the Treasury to receive US$963 million in emergency relief payments through the CARES Act payroll support program (the "PSP Program").

Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank as secured lender in connection with the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceedings of LATAM Airlines Group.

Special Counsel to the Debtors in the Waypoint Leasing bankruptcy proceedings, including the coordination of the sale of more than 125 aircraft on lease to 42 lessees in 31 different jurisdictions.

MUFG Union Bank in the financing of a Boeing 747-8F aircraft delivered to Air Bridge Cargo Airlines. This was the first transaction to utilize the Aircraft Financing Solutions Program of Aviation Capital Group, which issued a guaranty to support the payment of principal and interest on the loans.

ING Capital in the first-ever aircraft finance non-payment insurance financing involving a Boeing 747-8i aircraft operated by Korean Air Lines. The non-payment insurance policy was coordinated by Aircraft Finance Insurance Consortium of Marsh, Inc. Named "Overall Deal of the Year" by Airfinance Journal.

ING Capital and Societe Générale in the financing of the first five 737-MAX aircraft acquired by Ethiopian Airlines Group, including a non-payment insurance policy issued by a group of insurers arranged by Aircraft Finance Insurance Consortium of Marsh, Inc. Named "AFIC Deal of the Year - Africa" by Global Transport Finance.

CIT in the syndicated financing of a pool of 18 GE90, GEnx and Trent aircraft engines acquired by a bankruptcy remote subsidiary of White Oak Capital, as equity investor. The financing included a novel parri passu first lien loan structure.

Kenya Airways in connection with its $2,000,000,000 financial restructuring, one of the largest and most complex corporate transactions ever completed in Kenya.

Wings Capital Partners in a secured revolving loan facility with Wells Fargo to finance the purchase of aircraft leased to various domestic and international airlines.

JetBlue Airways in the sale of US$225 million of privately placed Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificates (EETCs).

Micron Semiconductor Asia Pte. Ltd. as issuer and Micron Technology, Inc. as parent guarantor in the issuance in the capital markets of US$462 million of Secured Notes, guaranteed by US Ex-Im Bank. The notes were offered under a medium term note program in Singapore.

JP Morgan Securities as initial purchaser in the issuance of notes guaranteed by US Ex-Im Bank in the capital markets. The notes were issued by an affiliate of GOL to finance engine maintenance services performed by Delta.

Foreign and US financial institutions as lead arrangers, lenders and initial purchasers in numerous financing transactions for leading helicopter leasing companies (including secured term loan and revolving credit facilities, bridge financings, PDP financings, unsecured loans and US Ex-Im Bank capital markets transactions). Mike has also acted for helicopter leasing companies and operators in secured term loan and revolving credit facilities and export credit financings.

Speaking Engagements

"Recent Developments in Aviation Finance Non-Payment Products", September 14, 2018 American Bar Association Meetings - Austin (legal panel member)

"Insider Views on Industry Expectations, Accessing the Capital Markets, Export Credit Agencies, and Re-Engining", February 23, 2011: ACI Aircraft Finance & Leasing Conference – New York, (legal panel member)

"US Ex-Im Bank's Response to the Financial Crisis", April 22, 2010: American Bar Association Meetings – Denver, (legal panel member)


Working it Out, Airfinance Journal, January 2004, (article on airline lease and loan restructuring)

Awards and Recognition

Nationally Recognized: Transportation: Aviation Finance
Chambers USA 2021-2023

Band 1: Transportation: Aviation Finance
Chambers USA 2010-2020

Thought Leaders Global Elite: Transport – Aviation Finance
Who's Who Legal 2023

Thought Leaders USA: Transport – Aviation Finance 
Who's Who Legal 2023

Recommended Lawyer: Equipment Finance Law
Best Lawyers 2012-2023

Leading Individual: Aviation
Euromoney plc: Best of the Best USA 2020