BRADENTON, Fla. — Atlanta announced a lease agreement with airlines Tuesday that should enable the city to move forward with a long-awaited financing for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Under the agreement the airlines will pay supplementary terminal rental fees of $30 million over fiscal years 2013 to 2016 to help fund completion of a new international terminal, allow the airport to retain adequate financial reserves, and maintain credit ratings, according to Mayor Kasim Reed.
Over the past few years the airport has planned for the issuance of between $800 million and $1.4 billion of bonds for the world’s busiest airport. But the sale was delayed by accounting problems last year and the selection of underwriters earlier this year, both of which have been resolved. Then the weak state of the economy necessitated the supplementary fee deal with airlines — including Delta Air Lines and AirTran Airways.
“This lease agreement strengthens the fiscal position of the airport and the city of Atlanta as we move forward to successfully secure funding in the financial bond market later this year for the completion of the international terminal,” Reed said.
The airlines agreed to provide an additional $12 million in fiscal 2013, $8 million in fiscal 2014, $5 million in fiscal 2015, and $5 million in fiscal 2016. The airport plans to reimburse the airlines for the $30 million but repayment is contingent upon the economy improving and the ability of the airport to maintain debt service coverage of 1.5 times from fiscal 2015 to 2017, officials said.
In fiscal 2009, passenger traffic at Hartsfield-Jackson decreased 1.1%. That compared favorably to the airline industry as a whole, which saw a decline of 7.7%. But Atlanta suffered a 19.5% decrease in cargo traffic, according to the airport’s 2009 financial statement.
The airport had $2.3 billion of outstanding bonds secured by general airport revenue, passenger facility charges, and customer facility charges as of June 30, 2009.
Atlanta, which owns and operates the airport, has used commercial paper to fund construction for several years.
The city last sold bonds for Hartsfield-Jackson in 2004 with the issuance of $128.5 million of general aviation revenue bonds and $235.8 million of PFC bonds.
The general aviation revenue bonds are rated A-plus by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s and A1 by Moody’s Investors Service. The PFC bonds are rated A by Fitch and Standard & Poor’s and A2 by Moody’s.
The bond sale later this year is expected to refund debt, convert variable-rate bonds to fixed rate, and provide new money to complete the $1.35 billion international terminal, which is part of a $6 billion capital improvement plan.
First Southwest Co. is the financial adviser on the deal.
JPMorgan will be the book-runner for the new-money portion of the transaction, which includes Jackson Securities as co-senior manager and co-managers Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Grigsby & Associates, Jeffries & Co., M.R. Beal & Co., Ramirez & Co., and Wells Fargo Securities.
Citi will be the book-runner for an interest-rate conversion. Loop Capital Markets LLC will be co-senior manager with co-managers Barclays Capital, Blaylock Robert Van LLC, Cabrera Capital Markets LLC, Rice Financial Products Co., and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc.
Siebert Brandford Shank & Co will be the book-runner on the refunding with Goldman, Sachs & Co as co-seniors and co-managers Estrada Hinojosa & Co., Morgan Keegan & Co., Morgan Stanley, Raymond James & Associates Inc., Terminus Securities LLC, and Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc.