BRADENTON, Fla. - Stable enplanements at Miami International Airport helped push ratings higher on a federal loan that financed a rental car facility.

Fitch Ratings upgraded to A from A-minus the ratings on the Florida Department of Transportation's $234.1 million loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act on Oct. 2.

The outlook is stable.

The loan financed the rental car facility at the Miami Intermodal Center, and is expected to be paid off 21 years ahead of maturity.

"The upgrade reflects continued very strong operating performance, the strength of the TIFIA loan structure that provides ample cash flow cushion and rapid amortization, and favorable debt service repayment flexibility relative to peers," said Fitch analyst Casey Cathcart.

Miami International's enplanement base of 20.2 million passengers contributed to seven straight years of transaction day growth at the rental facility along with outperformance in customer facility charge collections, Cathcart added.

Rental car transactions have trended upwards since 2007, and are expected to increase at least another 0.6% in fiscal 2015 to 10.2 million.

The TIFIA loan structure focuses on ultimate recovery by fiscal 2044 by sizing amortization payments to a percentage of available funds.

"Even under a conservative rating case scenario, current financial forecasts indicate full repayment by fiscal year 2024," Cathcart said. "The project has experienced a steady increase in rental car transaction days and pledged CFCs allowing for favorable coverage and liquidity ratios over the remaining life of the project loan, as well as significantly earlier debt repayment."

The intermodal center is a hub for transit, rental cars, taxis and shuttle services at the airport. It was developed by FDOT in partnership with Miami Dade County, the federal Department of Transportation, Miami Dade County Expressway Authority, and South Florida Regional Transportation Authority.

The rental car portion of the center opened in July 2010 and has 16 participating companies. It is operated by the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department.

Subscribe Now

Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the bond buying industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.