Fitch Ratings downgraded the underlying rating on Fresno’s $58 million of airport revenue bonds to BBB from BBB-plus.
“The downgrade reflects a weakening financial profile evidenced by low liquidity levels, tighter debt-service coverage and limited ability to raise airline rates,” Fitch said in a note.
The rating agency said the tough finances are a result of Fresno Yosemite International Airport’s increasing reliance on higher amounts of passenger facility charge revenue to support debt-service coverage.
Fitch said it is also concerned about the stability of airline service, after both ExpressJet and Mexicana airlines pulled out of the airport.
However, it noted that enplanements have started to recover in fiscal 2010 and the airport expects to find a carrier to take over a route to Guadalajara, Mexico, to replace bankrupt Mexicana.
Analysts said the rating also reflect such positives as the facility’s strategic location as the main airport serving California’s vast central San Joaquin Valley.
But the airport’s service area also includes a poorer population and very high unemployment rates, Fitch noted.