CHICAGO - Longtime Fitch Ratings airport analyst Peter Stettler will leave the agency this month to join an aviation consulting group based in Chicago.

Stettler, 41, leaves Fitch after 10 years at its Chicago office. While there he became a top analyst covering the airport sector and primary analyst on a number of airports, including O'Hare International Airport.

"It seemed like it was a good time to do something new," said Stettler, who will join Ricondo & Associates Inc. as a director later this month. "Airports fascinate me and I decided it was a good opportunity."

Ricondo & Associates is currently working with O'Hare as the airport moves forward with its $15 billion expansion and capital improvement plan.

"From our perspective we're sad to see him go, but on the other hand we have experience currently here so that we can continue to provide the quality service and research we have in the past," said Michael McDermott, the head of Fitch's public finance transportation group.

The agency plans to hire new transportation analysts to fill Stettler's spot as well as a vacancy that opened a few weeks ago when analyst Jessica Soltz Rudd departed. Also a transportation analyst, Soltz Rudd left Fitch in mid-July to join financial advisory firm Frasca & Associates, which specializes in transportation and acts as an adviser to a number of airports.

Fitch is looking for an analyst to focus on airport and seaport sectors and one who will concentrate on toll roads and transit sectors.

McDermott said analyst Jesse Ortega, who works out of the San Francisco office, will be at least one transportation analyst who will be covering the airport sector more heavily in the future. Ortega is currently primary analyst on a number of airports, including Los Angeles International Airport, the West Coast's largest.

Fitch's transportation group currently has six analysts. The global infrastructure in Americas group, which the transportation group is part of, has 17 analysts. Cherian George is the head of the global infrastructure group.

At Ricondo & Associates Stettler will help oversee a variety of projects for airport clients, including master plans, use-and-lease agreements, and developing feasibility studies in preparation for bond issues, he said.

Prior to joining Fitch, Stettler spent six years at Everen Securities Inc. in the municipal research department. He will stay in Chicago after the move - his new office is located across the street from the Fitch office.

Fitch also maintains public finance offices in New York City, Austin, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.

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