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Fitch upgrades New Orleans Airport's Outlook from "Stable" to "Positive" with A- - 6/19/2012 -

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 19, 2012. Fitch Ratings has affirmed the New Orleans Aviation Board’s (NOAB) approximately $120.4 million general airport revenue refunding bonds (GARBs), series 2009, at ‘A-‘. Fitch also affirms the ‘A-‘ rating on approximately $134.9 million of outstanding NOAB revenue bonds (Passenger Facility Charge – PFC - Projects), series 2010 and series 2007. The Rating Outlook on the 2009 GARBS has been revised to Positive from Stable. The Outlook on the 2007 and 2010 PFC bonds remains stable.

The Positive Rating Outlook on the GARBS reflects the continuing healthy recovery of enplanements at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, with the 4.3 million current enplanement base now at 88% of pre-Hurricane Katrina levels. The Outlook also recognizes the maintenance of very high levels of liquidity and low leverage since the storm, evidenced by NOAB’s approximately $87 million in unrestricted cash and investments and very low leverage of 1.62 times (x) net debt to cash flow available for debt service (CFADS) on the GARB lien. These metrics compare very favorably to peers that are rated higher. Feasibility studies to build a new terminal are currently underway at Armstrong International, and while the scope and sources of funding for the potential project have yet to be identified, leverage metrics could move upwards. The Airport’s Cost per Enplanement (CPE) decreased to $9.49 in 2011 from $10.14 in 2010, reflective of both a decreased level of NOAB operating costs and an 18% increase in non-airline operating revenues. Non-airline revenue gains reflect mainly higher terminal concession and parking revenues. Expenses declined about 13% in 2011 which reflects initiatives taken by management to lower costs.

"We are extremely pleased that Fitch Ratings has affirmed our rating from "Stable” to "Positive” A-, "said Nolan V. Rollins, Chairman of the New Orleans Aviation Board. "This indicates that the financial community is continuing to recognize the Aviation Board’s efforts to improve the facilities and secure its finances.” "This upgrade is an affirmation of sound strategies implemented by the Airport” stated Iftikhar Ahmad, Director of Aviation.


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