Moody's Investors Service today downgraded bond ratings for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, saying it expects the airport's debt level to increase as it continues to issue debt to pay for its $1.9 billion terminal renovation program.
"Total debt outstanding, already among the highest in the nation for airports, is expected to become the highest during 2013," Moody's wrote in its report. "This will bring debt per enplanement to over $200 and debt per O&D enplanement over $400 for an extended period of time."
Other factors raising the risk level include the ongoing bankruptcy of DFW's main tenant, American Airlines, and increasing competition on the horizon from Dallas Love Field when the Wright Amendment restrictions on air travel are fully removed late in 2014.
Still, Moody's issued a "stable" outlook for DFW bonds based on "expectations that the airport's operational, geographic and financial strengths as well as the economic strength of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area will allow DFW to successfully navigate a period of heightened risks and high leverage."
It noted the airport's "large, affluent service area" and "strong and experienced management team" as strengths and said that "a successful merger between American Airlines and US Airways would make the airport the largest hub in the network of the world's largest carrier."
-- Steve Kaskovich