Air Arabia GC becomes Bird & Bird’s first UAE-based aviation partner

The former general counsel of Air Arabia has joined Bird & Bird’s Middle East arm as a partner, the first time the firm has hired someone to focus exclusively on aviation in the region.

Anna Anatolitou will work alongside corporate partner Anders Nilsson, who recently relocated to the firm’s Dubai office from Sweden. While his remit covers aviation and defence, Anatolitou is the only UAE-based partner to focus on aviation.  

Her exit leaves the budget airline’s head of legal Sherif Bishara to fill the top role. The airline did not provide further comment on legal changes following her move. 

The move comes months after the firm hired Virgin Atlantic legal counsel Leo Fattorini for its Singapore office and Rolls Royce legal counsel Simon Phippard for London, where he is responsible for boosting the firm’s areospace relationships.

Anatolitou, who joined the budget airline in 2011, said in a statement that aviation activity in the region is “fast eclipsing” other areas. She added: “Dubai International Airport is now the world’s second busiest airport and by 2015 it is due to overtake London Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport.”

She continued: “Dispute Resolution options in the region are plentiful: local civil law courts operating in Arabic; common law DIFC Courts operating in English and a number of reputable arbitration institutions. There is no longer a need to look overseas for effective dispute resolution options.” 

Bird & Bird opened its Dubai base in November, its second office in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following an Abu Dhabi launch in 2011 (14 November 2013).