Giving Million Air Its Wings

At Cuddy & Feder, we think of ourselves not just as lawyers, but as problem-solvers who are here to help you accomplish your business goals. Our Real Estate and Financial teams recently came together to help a client in just this way – to secure the lease and financing for an airport facility at the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, NY.

Longtime client Roger Woolsey, owner of Million Air, a fixed-base operator (FBO) that specializes in creating travel experiences for private air travelers, began his business as an aviator flying private jets. Through this work, he realized that his clients wanted the overall experience of flying to be personable and comfortable – with limousines and well-appointed waiting areas. And the seed for Million Air was planted. Today, Million Air operates out of dozens of airports in the U.S. and Canada as well as the Caribbean, South America and China. Recently, he set his sights on Westchester County Airport.

There were two steps required to help Million Air acquire hangar space at Westchester Airport. The first step was to buy out an existing lease from one of six space operators. The existing lease had a short term, however, and in order to obtain the financing to build it out and operate it, he had to negotiate a new lease with the county.

That’s where Cuddy & Feder’s experienced real estate team came in. Joe Carlucci and Eon Nichols of Cuddy & Feder worked with Million Air to help them deal with the numerous hurdles involved in negotiating with the county – which can be slow and full of detailed processes. After almost three years, Cuddy helped Million Air obtain a very favorable 30-year lease with the necessary permissions to build it out and charge rents.

Once the lease was in place, Million Air was then able to obtain financing, and Cuddy & Feder’s finance group stepped in as Westchester counsel. Cuddy & Feder served on a team of lawyers, which included several top international firms, who helped Million Air obtain approximately $153 million in taxable and tax-exempt bond financing, through bonds issued simultaneously by the County of Westchester Industrial Development Agency and the State of Wisconsin Public Finance Authority.

Said Mr. Woolsey, “We employ around 30 different law firms, but Cuddy & Feder was absolutely the magic without which the project might not have happened!”

The complicated and unique nature of the FBO business created several hurdles along the way, but the determination and commitment of our client, the issuers and the team of legal advisors ultimately prevailed, resulting in the issuance of the bonds.

“I operate a business in 33 different markets, but none are as complex as New York,” said Mr. Woolsey. “In this regard, Cuddy & Feder was absolutely brilliant. They educated and navigated me through this completely new environment, and helped me accomplish something that I know other far more successful companies couldn’t do.”

Cuddy & Feder understands the complicated and nuanced FBO industry and is ready to assist potential clients seeking to negotiate both local and multi-state FBO transactions, bond financings and leases on publicly-owned or privately-owned airport property.

We also understand that working cooperatively with several other law firms and professionals is an important aspect of moving any bond financing forward to closing. Cuddy & Feder has extensive experience representing borrowers, issuers and underwriters in bond financings and seeks to maintain the cooperative nature of these financings in order to obtain the greatest results for our clients.