Both the main airport and seaport in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands remain shaky financial propositions, Fitch Ratings said this week in affirming their speculative-grade ratings.
The agency affirmed the BB-minus rating on $33.5 million of Commonwealth Ports Authority seaport revenue bonds, and the CCC rating on $14.6 million of authority senior airport revenue bonds.
The outlook in both cases is negative, according to Fitch.
The common denominator in both cases is the struggling economy of the commonwealth
"The overall economy of the CNMI is in decline and will likely take several years for seaport operations to be adequately sized for a more stabilized economy," Fitch said in its report on the seaport.
The economy is heavily dependant on tourism, which has struggled amid competition from other Pacific destinations, Fitch said. Those struggles have impacted the Saipan airport even more than the commonwealth's seaports.
"Passenger traffic to the CNMI is tourist-driven and heavily dependent on Asian markets, particularly Japan, which has been quite dormant for the past few years," Fitch said. "Weak traffic continues to pressure airport finances."