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Fitch Rates Atlanta Airport Bonds

top story photo Fitch Ratings has assigned an A plus rating to the proposed $176 million senior-lien airport general revenue bonds series 2010A and an A rating to the proposed $414 million airport PFC and subordinate lien general revenue bonds (PFC Hybrid Bonds) series 2010B issued by the city of Atlanta on behalf of Atlanta International:

Fitch also affirmed the airport's outstanding $1.44 billion senior revenue bonds at A plus and $555 million PFC hybrid revenue bonds at A.

The rating outlook for all bonds is stable. Proceeds of both series of bonds will be used to pay capital program costs, with an emphasis on the new Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal, and to refinance certain existing commercial paper notes, Fitch said.

The ratings agency cited the airport's strong traffic, with 88 million total passengers annually, and it's hub status for Delta. In addition, Fitch noted the large, local O&D market; its limited air service competition from nearby airports; its strategic southeastern geographic location, as well as its substantial airside and terminal infrastructure that can efficiently support a major hubbing operation; and expected airline costs per enplaned passenger that are relatively low with modest upward pressure.

Credit concerns center on the airport's operating exposure to Delta and its affiliates, which accounted for 76 percent of total enplanements in fiscal 2010; the high level (68 percent) of connecting or transit passenger traffic; and the expectation of moderate declines in coverage levels relative to past performance as a result of its plan of leveraging from both the general airport revenue and PFC hybrid credits, Fitch said.

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