Allen & Overy (A&O) has scooped the role of European counsel to Australia’s national airline and flag carrier Qantas after beating Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in a pitch.

Having flown jets made by US manufacturer Boeing for its entire history, Qantas has switched to French rival Airbus, prompting the airline to conduct a tender for European legal advice.

A&O has since advised Qantas on its first ever European export credit deal, which related to the airline’s first three Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The arranger was Société Générale, advised by White & Case.

A&O is currently acting on a fourth Airbus financing. Qantas has ordered 13 A330-200s and A330-300s from Airbus in a major fleet upgrade. A&O had an existing relationship with Qantas in New York, where banking partner Ian Shrank and tax partner William Macan worked with the airline on a number of US leases. London partner Mario Jacovides and Paris partner Luc Rentmeesters first met with Qantas last summer, before making a written submission. It is understood that Freshfields also made a bid for the work.

Jacovides, who led on the deal, commented: “The introduction was via New York, but obviously Qantas needed to be happy with us, because they’d never had European counsel before.”

A&O acted alongside Qantas’s Australian counsel Blake Dawson Waldron. The deal was the first time a French tax lease had been executed in Australasia.

Jacovides added: “We look forward to working with Qantas as their European counsel going forward.”