Two years ago, when the Allegheny County Airport Authority prepared for its first bond sale to finance the Terminal Modernization Program, three ratings agencies issued strong assessments of ACAA’s financial position and practices.
This week, all three of those agencies—Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and Kroll Bond Rating Agency—reaffirmed their confidence in the ACAA’s vision with identical positive ratings as the airport prepares for a follow-up bond sale this fall.
- Kroll rated the Authority A+ stable, citing a “proactive leadership team,” mitigated risk of cost overruns for the TMP and the airport’s focus on non-aeronautical revenue, among other strengths.
- Fitch rated the Authority A stable, citing Pittsburgh International Airport’s “well-anchored origination-and-destination traffic base” and “well-diversified airline market share.”
- Moody’s rated the Authority A2 stable, citing the progress made on TMP construction and the fact that the majority of contracts for the project have been awarded.
“This is another validation not just of the Terminal Modernization Program but our vision of what this airport can be,” said Christina Cassotis, ACAA CEO. “We are a dynamic origin-and-destination facility that will continue to grow and drive the economy of the entire region forward with more air service and more business opportunities on our campus.”
Airlines serving PIT are the primary funders of the TMP. They confirmed their support and trust in the long-term success of the airport in June 2021 by signing a new lease agreement expiring at the end of 2028 that fully approved $1.39 billion in TMP costs.
This year, they unanimously approved a revised $1.57 billion budget to account for pandemic-related inflation and supply-chain shortages, an agreement that all three bond rating agencies noted as an important factor in their assessments.
“The airlines are such key partners in this process, and their financial backing for our leadership decisions cannot be understated,” said Bryan Dietz, Senior Vice President, Air Service & Commercial Development.
While the ratings agencies cited lingering uncertainty around PIT’s recovery from losses in passenger traffic due to the pandemic, they all noted the ACAA’s consistent financial performance based on multiple sources of revenue.
“Further underpinning the rating is ACAA’s broad mix of aeronautical, non-aeronautical and non-operating revenues, which contributes to stable operating performance and airline affordability, facilitating efforts to attract new airlines and routes to PIT,” Kroll wrote in its report.
Likewise, Fitch wrote it believes “PIT retains some flexibility to manage airline costs through its diverse revenues, solid coverage levels, and cash balances.”
The second bond sale is part of the ACAA’s financing plan for the construction of the new terminal and the multi-modal complex that will contain a parking garage and rental car facilities.
The 2021 bond sale funded over $830 million of project costs. The ACAA’s leadership is funding the multi-year program through several rounds of bond financing to better align the receipt of funds with the timing of construction costs.
“We appreciate the agencies’ recognition of the diligent work we’ve done to establish a rock-solid financial position even amid the uncertainty caused by the pandemic,” said Eric Sprys, ACAA Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President.
“Our team will continue to deliver best-in-class results in every aspect of aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenue while developing state-of-the-art projects in energy, advanced manufacturing, cargo and more.”