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RHODE ISLAND PORT AUTHORITY $73 MILLION AIRPORT REVENUE BONDS RATED 'BBB+' BY FITCH -- FITCH FINANCIAL WIRE --

 NEW YORK, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The Rhode Island Port Authority and Economic Development Corporation's $73.4 million airport revenue bonds, 1993 Series A are rated `BBB+' by Fitch. The credit trend is stable. This is the first time that the Rhode Island Port Authority and Economic Development Corporation has issued bonds that are payable by the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. The bonds are expected to be sold through negotiation by a Merrill Lynch & Co. syndicate in September.
 The rating's foundation is the strong enplanement history of T. F. Green airport during the 1980's that pushed the 550,000 enplanement design capacity of the existing terminal to accommodate 1993's 1.2 million actual enplanements. Air service by a diverse group of carriers at the airport as well as the airport's almost exclusive origination and destination (O&D) traffic are also credit strengths. The financial plan for the new airport terminal project is further enhanced by substantial funding sources other than borrowing, including Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants pursuant to a multi-year letter of intent, and a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) grant for the terminal access roadway. Likewise, the state's support of the project is evidenced by its issuance of general obligation bonds which will be repaid by the Rhode Island Airport Corporation on a deeply subordinated basis.
 Counterbalancing these strengths is the untested management ability of the corporation, the newly formed entity charged with operating the former state airports. This risk is especially heightened by the new airline agreements which charge the corporation with bearing any operating cost increases beyond the Producer Price Index (PPI) as well as containing the construction costs of the project. In addition, T.F. Green Airport operates in a highly competitive environment where there are several competing airports within conceivable driving distance. Finally, the corporation's application for a $3 passenger facility charge (PFC), which is planned to repay as much as 75 percent of these bonds, isn't expected to be approved until December 1993. While approval of the majority of eligible project components is likely, due to the FAA's previous familiarity with the project through its 1992 letter of intent approval, there is some uncertainty surrounding the total approval amount.
 -0- 9/1/93
 /CONTACT: Andrea R. Bozzo of Fitch, 212-908-0515/


CO: Rhode Island Port Authority and Economic Development Corporation ST: Rhode Island IN: SU: RTG

MP -- NY032 -- 7897 09/01/93 11:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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