Fitch Ratings dropped Manchester, N.H.'s airport revenue bonds to BBB-plus from A-minus. The city owns Manchester-Boston Regional Airport
The downgrade affected $174.2 million in outstanding debt. Fitch retained a negative outlook on the rating.
Among the factors the agency cited was a high debt burden. Debt per enplanement was $155 in fiscal 2012. Leverage is 6.8 times net debt to cash flow available for debt service. That is somewhat high for a small hub airport, Fitch analyst Raymond Wu wrote.
However, the airport maintains strong liquidity with $38.8 million in unrestricted cash, equivalent to 567 days cash on hand.
As a negative for the credit, the airport is very dependent on one carrier, Southwest, which has a 60% market share.
Furthermore, the airport is heavily dependent on traffic-related sources of income like parking receipts and passenger facility charges.
The airport's traffic base has gone down to 1.3 million enplanements in fiscal 2012 after peaking at 2.1 million enplanements in fiscal 2005. So far in fiscal 2013, enplanements are down 9% compared to the same period last year. "The airport's traffic profile has shown four years of consecutive declines due to increased presence of low-cost carriers at Logan Airport," Wu wrote.
On the positive side, the airport has limited near-term infrastructure needs. Over the next five years, the facility plans to spend $51.4 million on capital projects. However, officials anticipate most of the work will be funded by grants. The airport does not forsee taking out more debt in the near term.
Manchester owns Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. It's about 50 miles northwest of Boston and is the only airport in New Hampshire providing commercial jet service.