Moody’s Investors Service gave an A2 rating to $296 million of airport refunding bonds that Hawaii plans to sell this month. The savings from the deal is expected to exceed 6%.
Moody’s also affirmed its A2 rating and stable outlook on the state airport system’s $1.17 billion of outstanding parity debt.
Moody’s analysts attributed the stable outlook to expectations that passenger levels will remain relatively constant, while adding that they expect the system will maintain cash-flow levels above the airport sector median, which is currently at 416 days.
The Hawaii airport system has a virtual monopoly on air travel to, from, and among the islands, which are dependent on air service for tourism and intrastate travel.
The state operates 15 airports, including all the significant commercial ones. The largest is Honolulu International Airport.
Passenger counts have stabilized, after dropping abruptly after ATA and Aloha Airlines, both major carriers between the mainland and Hawaii, went bankrupt in 2008.
Passenger boardings increased 0.9% in 2011 and 1.6% in 2010 after falling 15.2% in 2009, according to Moody’s. Operating revenue increased 9% due primarily to a 21% increase in aeronautical rent revenues.
Expenditures on a $1.3 billion capital improvement program have been delayed by the environmental review process on the Mauka Concourse at Honolulu airport, the program’s largest project.
Analysts said they are concerned that delays might result in increased costs, but the delays are also keeping the financial metrics above projections.
The schedule has already delayed the next debt issuance, which is expected to provide $426 million in funds, until 2013.