Fitch Ratings last week downgraded the Wayne County Airport Authority to A-minus from A, now with a stable outlook.
The action affects about $2 billion of outstanding senior-lien general revenue bonds issued for Detroit Metropolitan Airport, the WCAA’s main facility. Fitch also affirmed its existing A-minus rating on the $180 million of outstanding subordinate-lien bonds.
“The rating downgrade reflects the heightened credit concerns that WCAA’s long-term financial flexibility and airline cost competitiveness may be subject to increased levels of stress given the existing high airport debt burden,” wrote Fitch analyst Michael Murad.
The airport also faces the potential for sustained economic weakness in the service area, and its elevated dependence on Delta Air Lines, which accounts for 81% of total traffic in fiscal 2010.
The airport’s chief strengths come from its central geographic position, modern facilities that include a new terminal, substantial airfield capability, and stable coverage levels. “Fitch views Delta’s ongoing commitment to the Detroit regional market, complemented by its substantial connecting and international service, as an important positive credit consideration which is reflected in the lease agreement that expires in September 2032,” Murad wrote.