Donald G. Gray

Donald Gray is Chair of the Firm’s Aviation and Aerospace Group, and heads its aircraft finance practice. He advises a number of aircraft lessors, financiers, manufacturers, and domestic and international airlines and aircraft operators, on aircraft finance and aviation and aerospace commercial and regulatory law matters. Donald has advised on the financing or re-financing of more than 900 aircraft over the past 15 years, and he played a leading role on behalf of aircraft lessors, manufacturers and financiers in every significant Canadian airline bankruptcy proceeding in the last 25 years.Donald has also advised a number of non-Canadian clients in respect of M&A transactions with Canadian aviation undertakings, and a number of Canadian clients in international aviation M&A transactions. In 2013 he represented the underwriters in Air Canada’s historic Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificate (EETC) financing of its B777 deliveries, which was the first “true” EETC completed by a non-U.S. airline, and which received both Airline Economics and Air Finance Journal “Deal of the Year” awards in 2014.

Donald was a Canadian delegate to the Unidroit/ICAO sessions, which enacted the Cape Town Conventionon international interests in aircraft assets in 2001. In 1999, he was a member of the drafting group in Rome, and in 2001, he was chair of the Insolvency Subgroup in Montréal that prepared the final Cape Town insolvency provisions, including Alternative A. He has also served on the Legal Advisory Panel of the Aviation Working Group (AWG), a group of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers and financiers, since the formation of the panel in 2000. Donald served as chair of the AWG Legal Panel from 2006 to 2008. Donald co-ordinated the Canadian airline advisory submissions to the Government of Canada in respect of the 2010/11 Aircraft Sector Understanding(ASU) OECD negotiations. He was appointed by AWG as Chair of the AWG Canada Contact Group, comprised of leading airline and aviation financing counsel in Canada, to review and report on Cape Town Convention and other major aircraft financing issues. In 2017, Blakes was selected by AWG to serve as its global external counsel.

Prior to his return to private law practice, Donald served as Vice President and General Counsel of Odyssey International Airlines, an international charter airline, Air Toronto, an Air Canada regional connector, and Soundair Express, an international cargo carrier. Donald also acted as Vice President, Maintenance and Engineering, for the airline group. He is an active aircraft owner and IFR (instrument flight rules) rated pilot, and holds Canadian, United States and South African aviation documents. Donald is currently working on transitioning his fixed wing licenses to include rotary-wing operations.

Since 2015, Chambers Globalhas named Blakes as having a “Band 1” Aviation Finance practice (one of the few firms in the world to have this rating).

Donald is a member of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Air Transport Association of Canada. He is also a member of the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT), the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC), the Canadian Business Aircraft Association, the Helicopter Association International (HAI), the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), the Owners and Pilots Association and the Seaplane Pilots Association. He was invited by Transport Canada Aviation to join the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council. Donald also acts as organizer and chair of the annual Canadian Airline Investment Conference held in Toronto each year.