Fitch Ratings said it upgraded Allegheny County, Pa., Airport Authority's outstanding $354.6 million of senior airport revenues bonds to A-minus from BBB-plus.
Fitch does not rate the $13.9 million of series 2012-A2 bonds and $7 million subordinate series 2001 A&B bonds. The rating outlook is stable.
The upgrade reflects the airport's long-term improved financial profile.
In 2013, Pittsburgh International Airport executed a lease agreement with Consol Energy for natural gas drilling rights on airport land. The airport received an upfront bonus payment of $46.3 million that is expected to reduce airline costs, however, Fitch notes this money is unrestricted and may be used for any other purpose.
In addition, the airport will receive monthly royalty payments once drilling operations begin. The upgrade also considers lower near-term leverage as a result of the fast debt amortization schedule. Fitch expects the airport's competitive position to improve once debt service costs decline in 2019. The diverse share of carriers serving the airport along with the origination and destination passenger base should limit traffic volatility going forward.