Airports and Aviation Law

We are located in a global transportation hub at the gateway to Latin America, and many of our clients require legal and business services specific to airport-related business and development. Our Airports and Aviation Services Group is a specialty team that combines our various areas of legal expertise to respond to the needs of business and government in operating or developing at or around airports. We serve national and international aviation and aerospace clients along a broad spectrum of litigation, transactional, and regulatory matters. Our attorneys have unique legal and business skill sets in aviation, construction, government affairs, litigation, public contracts and bid disputes, land use, labor, environmental, real estate, business transactions, and public-private infrastructure development.

Our Group Attorneys

Attorneys within the Airports and Aviation Services Group are leaders in the aviation community with significant legal experience and actual operational know-how. The Group is led by Mitchell A. Bierman, who has focused his practice on airport law, representing airports and airport-related business, including airlines, cargo carriers, car rental companies, airport concessionaires, consultants and construction and engineering firms. Prior to joining us, Mitch was counsel to Miami International Airport (MIA), and he has 20 years of experience in airport finance, airline negotiations, airport concessions, and land leasing and development. Mitch has helped numerous firms win major airport concessions around the United States and has negotiated airline-airport use agreements, rental car facility agreements, fuel system lease agreements, management agreements, rental car lease and concession agreements, and other ground transportation agreements. He also assisted airports in their non-aviation development deals, expansions, construction projects, labor agreements and First Amendment issues.

Founding Member Richard Jay Weiss has been regular counsel to a major international airline and its Latin American hub for more than 20 years. His experience includes issues related to routes, airport expansion, P3 transactions and procurement. Combining his governmental experience gained from more than 30 years as a County and City Attorney, with his airline and airport experience, Richard helps successfully navigate his clients through the regulatory and governmental thicket to achieve their important business goals.

During the last two decades Aleida Martinez Molina has represented numerous South American and European foreign passenger and cargo carriers as well as local aviation-support businesses. This experience ranges from negotiating contracts and leases and sheparding matters through the Department of Transportation to litigating matters including cargo claims, employment and contract disputes. In addition, she has experience with businesses and individuals in matters relating to general aviation issues, including representation of the creditors’ committee in one of the largest general aviation aircraft manufacturer reorganizations in the Untied States. Aleida is a former assistant editor of the American Bar Association’s Air & Space Lawyer.

Eric P. Hockman brings real-world expertise to the group. He is a trial attorney who, prior to his law career, was a former senior aircraft maintenance manager for Northwest Airlines with extensive experience managing maintenance operations with a large union work-force. He is also an experienced pilot, holding a Commercial Multi-Engine Land with Instrument Privilege Certificate, a cargo plane pilot, and a former flight instructor.

Practice Overview

Our Group's practice is international in scope, including:

Aviation Law:

  • Retained as special counsel in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding involving claims of major North American and European cargo carriers arising from allegations of breach of aircraft service agreements.
  • Defense of a Part 121 major international airline against allegations of negligence by a passenger, under the Montreal Convention.
  • Consultation for a Part 135 carrier in connection with claims for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract.
  • Representation of private corporate jet owners in an insurance dispute relating to an accident involving taxiing aircraft.
  • Defense of a large commercial engine manufacturer in a negligence and product liability case in Federal court.
  • Prosecution of a lawsuit by a lessor of general aviation landing gear in an action alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and quantum meruit.
  • Represented airmen in connection with enforcement actions in connection with medical and pilot certificate actions.
  • Represented and advised buyers and sellers in aircraft sales and lease transactions, including providing counsel on matters of voting and ownership trusts, Cape Town Convention and FAA recording and registration.
  • Retained as regular counsel with respect to aviation liens, and recording and registration with Federal and state authorities.

Airport Development and Concessions:

  • Successfully negotiated and handled all legal and government affairs for a major international carrier in its $1.5 billion airport terminal development agreement with a top international airport.
  • Represented Areas Comidas, a major international airport food and beverage concessionaire in award of numerous airport concession worth in excess of $500 million. Areas quickly became one of the country's largest concession operators only 5 years after it entered the US market.
  • Represented world's largest car rental company in negotiation of its lease and concession agreement for consolidated car rental facility at two large international airports.
  • Represented a developer in a multimillion dollar exclusive on-airport mixed-use development including hotel, office, retail and other attendant uses at a major regional airport in Florida.
  • Successfully represented Faber Coe & Greg in obtaining news, and specialty retail concession with projected sales in excess of $80 million at major international airport and defended award in challenge by disappointed bidder.
  • Represented Allied Waste Systems in obtaining and negotiating $25 million contract for disposal of USDA regulated international airport waste and successfully defended bid protest challenge by disappointed bidder.
  • Provided legal and government affairs support in acquisition of duty free concession at one of country's fasted growing airports for Nuance Global Traders, the world's largest airport duty free concessionaire.
  • Favorably settled environmental cost recovery claim against Fortune 100 company as part of a multi-defendant, $700 million cost recovery lawsuit brought by owner of major public airport against all historical airport users and tenants.
  • Representation in issues relating to certification and compliance with Disadvantaged Business Enterprises and other small business program requirements.
  • Represented major international carrier concerning airport expansion and governmental issues.

Publications and Media Appearances

Our lawyers in the Group regularly publish and serve as commentators for local and national radio and television program on aviation issues.