International litigation and forum non conveniens: Strategies and lessons from the aviation context

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International litigation and forum non conveniens: Strategies and lessons from the aviation context

Karl Hennessee, Vice-President Litigation & Regulatory Affairs, Airbus S.A.S., France

International litigation is now a fact of life for most corporations. They may find themselves hauled into court in unexpected places and, perhaps more often than anywhere but their home jurisdictions, in the United States. In some respects, this trend is simply a legal manifestation of economic globalization and is the price of doing business on the world stage. Shouldn’t the company that is based in the European Union and operates around the world expect that it may face legal action wherever it does business?

Airbus is one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers, and it consistently captures approximately half or more of all orders for airliners with more than 100 seats. Airbus' mission is to provide the aircraft best suited to the market's needs and to support these aircraft with the highest quality of service. The Airbus product line comprises 14 aircraft models, from the 100-seat single-aisle A318 jetliner to the 525-seat A380 - which is the largest civil airliner in service. Airbus' delivery of 453 jetliners in 2007 surpassed its previous year's total by 19, and were made at the highest ever on-time rate and quality level. Its total fleet of delivered aircraft exceeded the 5,400 milestone as of 31 October 2008, with total sales surpassing the 9,100 mark. Airbus also has expanded into the military transport aircraft sector. The A400M multi-role military airlifter - being produced under management of the Airbus Military company - will replace ageing fleets of C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transalls. In addition, aerial tankers for in-flight refueling and transport missions are available in aircraft variants derived from the A310 and A330.

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