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Fitch Rates Atlanta Airport Bonds

top story photo Fitch Ratings has assigned an A plus rating to approximately $495 million of senior-lien airport general revenue bonds series 2010C A plus issued by the city of Atlanta on behalf of Atlanta International Airport. Fitch also affirmed the airport's outstanding $1.72 billion general revenue bonds at A plus. The rating outlook for all bonds is stable, Fitch said.

Proceeds of the series 2010C bonds will be used to refund the outstanding series 2003RF-B/C variable rate bonds, to reimburse the airport for previously paid swap termination payments associated with the series 2003RF-B/C bonds, and to fund the debt service reserve fund in order to meet its required balance under the bond ordinance.

The rating reflects the underlying credit strengths, including the airports' status as the busiest passenger airport in the world; a primary market area that is large and locally driven; limited air service competition from nearby airports; its strategic southeastern geographic location; and its substantial airside and terminal infrastructure that can efficiently support a major hubbing operation, among other factors, Fitch said.

The ratings firm said credit concerns include the airport's operating exposure to Delta and its affiliates, which accounted for 76 percent of total enplanements in fiscal 2010; the high level 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.

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