Walkers acted for a number of secured creditors in the Norwegian Air Irish Examinership in May 2021. This deal was named Finance Dublin's Financial Services – Aviation Finance Restructuring Deal of the Year. The Norwegian Air examinership was a significant cross-border restructuring which utilized Irish examinership law to implement a rightsizing of an international aviation enterprise. The restructuring has garnered international attention both within the restructuring and aviation communities, emphasising Ireland's critical role as a key jurisdiction for aviation restructurings and its central position as a hub for aviation securitisation.
The scheme of arrangement proposed by the examiner involved relatively innovative elements which had not been utilized previously within Irish examinership law. The restructuring also involved Norwegian law elements. As such, it was critical to obtain Norwegian law advices for our client to ensure our client was fully informed.
Under Irish Examinership law, the company in protection has the power to apply to the court during the protection period to repudiate onerous contracts that involve the performance of obligations other than the payment of money if the examiner believes this is necessary for the survival of the company as a going concern. The Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that this includes leases of real property and in this matter, the High Court confirmed that this provision also extends to aircraft leases. It also established that the power can extend to contracts governed by a foreign law.
The Norwegian Air Irish examinership also expands the parameters of how a scheme of arrangement can be formulated to afford an enterprise the best chances of a successful restructuring.
Commenting on the deal, partner and Ireland head of Insolvency and Dispute Resolution William Greensmyth shares, "For Walkers, the ability of our restructuring team and aviation finance team to work in a seamless manner and provide time critical advices to our client across a wide range of issues was key and gave us an opportunity to display the wealth of knowledge within our firm on a highly complex matter."