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Tony Payne


Tony Payne is a partner in the Aviation practice based in London. Having practised for over a decade as an aviation lawyer in the UK and before that as a commercial lawyer in Australia, he has accumulated significant multi-national and domestic experience advising clients on all manner of regulatory and commercial matters in the aviation sector.

In addition to his expertise as a highly experienced aviation lawyer Tony is sought after for his pragmatic, corporate minded approach to achieving outstanding results for his clients. As a consequence of having significant senior in-house and major bid management experience in the aviation sector Tony understands the commercial and corporate imperatives that must be managed alongside the delivery of clear legal advice.

Tony's aviation practice has been centred around facilitating clients' international strategic ambitions in an omnipresent and multi-faceted aviation regulatory regimes. This has included advising clients in respect of: privatisation and liberalisation of aviation markets, compliance and non-compliance issues associated with ICAO conventions, European Regulations and domestic law, certification, changes of ownership, as well as supporting consultation exercises. Tony has advised on aviation regulatory matters not only affecting the airline industry but also airports, air navigation services, safety critical services, engineering, the military as well as engaging with Government departments and Regulators themselves.

Tony's commercial experience dovetails with his regulatory expertise. He has represented aviation clients in both the UK and around the world in relation to: corporate expansion (and contraction), restructuring, joint ventures and pursuing and letting of major contracts. This experience has been in the aviation sector generally but has specifically been across a number of specialist areas where industry specific knowledge is can be a key differentiator for clients (such as commercialising and liberalising in regulated sectors, public private partnerships, outsourcing and in-sourcing of regulated and unregulated services).

Tony has held Board and Company Secretarial positions representing clients on a number European companies maintaining strategic objectives and dealing tactically with the myriad of issues presented in these roles. Importantly, this includes dealing with and having an appreciation of the complicated internal issues faced by clients when pursuing new ventures.

Prior to joining DLA Piper, Tony was assistant general counsel at NATS Holdings PLC, formerly National Air Traffic Services Limited.

Professional QualificationsSolicitor of the High Court of AustraliaSolicitor of the Senior Courts of England and WalesSolicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland


  • Advising a client in respect of the establishment of a new joint venture with a major infrastructure provider to pursue Spanish Governments outsourcing of air navigation services for 15 Spanish Airports (subsequently won 10 of 15 contracts)
  • Acting as Bid Director and legal counsel in respect of a client's bid to win the outsourcing of services for up to nine airports in Sweden. This included the incorporation of a subsidiary, certification negotiations for that subsidiary and stakeholder management (including government and regulator engagement) of all aspects of the project
  • Advising Etihad Airways on its acquisition of a 49% stake in Jat Airways (which has been renamed and rebranded Air Serbia) as part of an extensive strategic partnership between the two airlines.
  • Board Member ESSP SAS. A French incorporated company owned by six European regulated entities for the sole purpose of being the European Satellite Service Provider to the European Commission
  • Handling a 33% strategic investment in a Swiss carrier (Darwin Airline) by Etihad Airways which, uniquely, included a brand licensing arrangement which will result in Darwin operating regional scheduled services under a new brand called Etihad Regional
  • Handling the acquisition of a majority stake in a UK airline (Eastern Airways) on behalf of a global helicopter operator (Bristow)
  • Representing a major air navigation services provider (NATS Services) in relation to joint venture commercial projects in several different jurisdictions
  • Company Secretary of FerroNATS SA. A Spanish incorporated joint venture company created to bid for and provide services to the Spanish Airports
  • Advising a client in respect of ownership and structuring obligations in respect of takeover opportunities subject to sovereign control criteria
  • Following aircraft type groundings advising a client in respect of regulatory compliance obligations and impact thereof

    Prior Experience

    2015 to date, Partner, DLA Piper
    2013 - 2015, Legal Director, DLA Piper
    2005 - 2013, NATS 
    2012 - 2013, Assistant General Counsel
    2010 - 2012, Head of Legal (NSL)
    2008 - 2010, Senior Legal Advisor
    2005 - 2008, Legal Advisor
    2002 - 2005, Solicitor, Australia based law firm