People

Eric T. Smith

Partner

Washington, DC Office
202.955.5600

Education

J.D., Temple University Beasley School of Law, 1993
B.A., cum laude, Duquesne University, 1989

Bar and Court Admissions

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
District of Columbia
United States District Court for the District of Colorado
United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

Eric T. Smith

Eric Smith concentrates his practice in the aviation, airport, and aviation-based labor, airport concessions, and bankruptcy arenas. 

He represents airport owners and operators of all sizes across the United States, providing legal and practical counsel on a full spectrum of issues that range from drafting large-scale operating agreements, to acquiring federal assistance for obtaining and maintaining air carrier service, to securing federal grants for physical improvements to the airport. 

With respect to airport finances, Mr. Smith utilizes his broad financial expertise to fashion solutions for airports facing a myriad of challenges in a variety of settings. Whether it involves a critical re-examination of airline rates and charges or developing innovative ways to develop airport property into an income-producing asset, Mr. Smith has the tools and experience to provide innovative and forward-thinking structures to the challenges that face airports today.

Eric has extensive experience structuring and negotiating complex business arrangements, both in the distressed and non-distressed business contexts.  Eric’s bankruptcy experience is extensive, having represented debtors, and a wide-array of creditors (including large banks, landlords, and airports), in Chapter 11 proceedings all across the United States.  He has particular expertise in representing airport operators and aircraft owners and lessees in airline bankruptcies having been deeply involved in all post-9/11 airline bankruptcy cases and has served as counsel to airports of all sizes in those cases.

Eric as an experienced litigator, he is also well equipped to handle airport-based litigation, whether it is suits brought by airlines, tenants, or property owners.  His practice covers regulatory and litigation matters proceedings before the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, and in cases filed in both the state and federal courts.

Additionally, he is also experienced in labor and employment matters and assists airports in navigating the myriad of issues involving on-airport employment matters, including labor peace agreements, prevailing wage ordinances, and how those issues may impact concessions programs, such as ACDBE programs.

Representative Experience

  • Acted as lead counsel on complex negotiation of airline use and lease agreement involving construction of new terminal complex and associated issuance of general airport revenue bonds (GARBs), as well as creation of structure to utilize previous agreement as a bridge to new agreement.  
  • Acted as lead counsel for large hub airport in substantially-revising airline rates and charges and implementation of rates-by-ordinance.
  • Represented small-hub airport in modification of rates and charges to best position airport to adjust to emerging space constraints and to evolving airline and aircraft mix.
  • Acted as lead counsel for several airports in structuring, negotiating and drafting new concessions program agreements.
  • Successfully negotiated an assumption of a use and lease agreement at large hub airport that maintained hub status of carrier and approved large new capital investment at airport.   
  • Acted as special Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) counsel in multi-layer bond issue that was partially secured by PFCs at large hub airport
  • Restructured airline, concessions and rental car agreements at numerous airports during COVID-19 crisis.
  • Acted as lead counsel for consortia of airports in rental car bankruptcies. Among tasks completed was successful protection of funds held in trust for airports, among which were CFCs. 
  • Represented medium hub airport in successful litigation of rejection claim involving use and lease agreement resulting in multimillion-dollar payout to airport
  • Represented medium hub airport matter involving rejection of special facility lease in bankruptcy case of hangar and restructuring of related bond debt
  • Acted as special Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) counsel in multi-layer bond issue that was partially secured by PFCs at large hub airport
  • Acted as lead counsel for numerous airports (ranging from small to large hubs) in the negotiation of airline use agreements
  • Represented small hub airport in multi-year dispute with network carriers over scope of permissible rate-setting mythologies to employ for charging airlines for use of airport facilities
  • Litigated at FAA Part 16 enforcement action involving fixed-base operator and small hub airport and related modification to minimum standards
  • Represented small hub airport in Part 13 matter involving unsuccessful bid on new agreement for long term agreement with a fixed-base operator
  • Represented large hub airport in defense of record of decision at FAA concerning runway realignment and related property acquisition
  • Represented large hub airport in negotiation of labor harmony agreement in connection with airport concessions operations and related matters
  • Assisted medium hub airport in lease negotiations for development of airport land for non-aeronautical use
  • Represented medium hub airport in developing global resolution to airport concessions, labor dispute, and related renegotiation of master concessions contract
  • Assisted small, general aviation airport in developing alternative instrument approaches to address obstructions in approach area of airport
  • Represented large hub airport in drafting of concessions agreements for new concessions program
  • Assisted medium hub airport in developing and implementing airline incentive plan for new entrant air service

Professional and Civic Activities

  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Airports Council International-North America
  • Member, American Association of Airport Executives, Northeast Chapter
  • Board Member, Aviation Council of Pennsylvania
  • Member, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
  • Member, Turnaround Management Association
  • Board Member, Brian Anselmino Memorial Fund

 

News & Publications

Presentations

36th Annual Aiport Law Workshop
10.22.20
35th Annual Airport Law Workshop
10.15.19
View All Presentations

Publications

Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell
2014–Present
Transportation Research Board's Airport Cooperative Research Program
June 2019
Transportation Research Board's Airport Cooperative Research Program
February 2017
View All Publications

Education

J.D., Temple University Beasley School of Law, 1993
B.A., cum laude, Duquesne University, 1989

Bar and Court Admissions

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
District of Columbia
United States District Court for the District of Colorado
United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit