Miami's $6 billion in airport bonds get negative outlook
By Scott Blake
A major credit rating agency has revised Miami International Airport's roughly $6 billion in revenue bonds to a negative outlook as a result of the bankruptcy filing of American Airlines, the airport's major carrier.
Fitch Ratings' revision from a "stable" outlook to "negative" on the bonds — used to finance massive upgrades in terminals, and more — shouldn't harm the airport or its finances, Miami International officials said
Fitch changed the outlook but maintained the current "A" rating for Miami International's bonds, so the county-owned airport's payment rates on any future bonds or bond refinancing shouldn't increase, said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Jose Abreu, who manages the airport.
"The negative outlook is for the American Airlines" situation, Mr. Abreu said. "As the bankruptcy evolves, Fitch said they'd be willing to revise it."
At other credit agencies, Mr. Abreu said, Standard & Poor's has maintained its "stable" outlook for the airport's bonds, while Moody's has yet to decide.
Aviation Department Chief Financial Officer Anne Lee said Fitch seemed to exercise "an abundance of caution" in revising its outlook.
"It really shouldn't affect the airport right now," she said. "We're not going to issue any new debt."
AMR Corp., American's parent, filed last week for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which allows it to reorganize under a court-supervised repayment plan to creditors.
Miami International officials think other carriers would move quickly to fill a lucrative void left in Miami if American were to reduce service, but they don't expect it to happen anyway.
Also, Ms. Lee said, the airport's agreements with carriers allow it to raise rates "across-the-board," which could offset any revenue loss.
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