The Kenton County Airport Board was hit by two downgrades last week.
Standard & Poor’s cut the airport’s outstanding revenue bonds to A-minus from A. Fitch Ratings downgraded its rating to BBB-plus from A-minus. Both agencies revised their outlooks to stable from negative.
The airport has $195 million of outstanding debt. The bonds are secured by the net revenues of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, which is the Kenton County Airport Board’s main airport.
Both rating agencies said the downgrade reflects significant traffic declines over the past two years. Most of the declines are due to flight reductions from Delta Air Lines Inc., which accounted for 90% of the airport’s 2009 enplanements.
The airport’s dependence on Delta remains a risk for the future, analysts said.
“The downgrade reflects our view of continually declining enplanements, resulting in an increased cost per enplanement at a fully-residual, medium-hub airport that has a limited origination and destination market and no additional debt plans,” Standard & Poor’s analyst Adam Torres said in a release on the downgrade.
The airport’s credit is boosted by a low debt burden — and manageable future borrowing plans — as well as adequate financial flexibility, analysts said.
Fitch analyst Michael Murad said the stable outlook reflects expectations that the airport is “nearing a base level of traffic that is sustainable.”