Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Bond Rating Upgrade, Record Passenger Numbers Echo Tourism Recovery
May 1, 2023
PHOENIX – Moody’s Investors Services (Moody’s) raised its long-term rating to Aa2 from Aa3 on Phoenix Civic Improvement Corporation’s (CIC) senior-lien general airport revenue bonds (GARBs) and raised its long-term rating to Aa3 from A1 on CIC’s junior-lien GARBs, issued on behalf of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). Both credits have stable outlooks. Moody’s also assigns Aa2 to the CIC Airport Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2023 (AMT).
The upgraded ratings reflect the airport’s improved air travel passenger base from the limited competition in the region and Phoenix’s growing and diversified economy. The ratings also reflect the City’s high quality of financial management by achieving strong financial targets and managing a financially sound capital improvement plan.
“Phoenix Sky Harbor is the largest economic engine in the state of Arizona and one of our most valuable assets,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “These ratings reinforce the strong management and outlook of our Airport which is vital to our growing area as we continue to look to attract new investments.”
Moody’s expects the airport’s origination and destination (O&D) passenger base will continue to grow modestly and expects the airport to continue to manage the current capital plan effectively.
“The ratings reflect the high quality of the financial management of the airport and their proven track record of meeting, or exceeding, financial targets,” said City of Phoenix Chief Financial Officer Katheen Gitkin.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport recently released March passenger numbers reporting more than 4.6 million people traveled through the airport. This number is a two percent increase from March 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic and when the airport had its busiest month ever. March 2023 marks the busiest month in Phoenix Sky Harbor’s history.
A high bond rating means the airport can realize lower interest rates when issuing debt for airport improvements and modernization projects. Phoenix Sky Harbor is currently working on projects including improving airfield efficiency with a new north/south taxiway on the west side of the airport, a second north concourse at Terminal 3, and a post-security walkway connecting Terminals 3 and 4.
These ratings reflect the airport's ability to move forward with the capital plan while maintaining competitive airline costs in the midst of seeing a record-increase in passenger numbers.
Quotes from Phoenix City Council
“This great news recognizes the Aviation Department's commitment to sound financial stewardship, and its focus on the kinds of capital investments that improve the experience for our passengers and strengthens the position of our business partners at Sky Harbor. Airlines choose Sky Harbor because we are cost competitive nationally, and thanks to this action by Moody's we can continue to be.”
Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari
“Sky Harbor continues to be a powerful economic force amid a record-breaking number of people traveling to Phoenix. This upgrade in Sky Harbor’s bond rating is warranted and will allow for efficiency and security improvements throughout the airport.”
Councilwoman Laura Pastor, District 4
“A raised credit rating on Sky Harbor’s bonds recognizes Phoenix’s firm commitment to economic development through its high-quality fiscal management. These ratings not only save taxpayer dollars, they also position Phoenix for further development, maintain competitive airline costs while boosting Sky Harbor’s ability to remain the region’s leading economic engine.”
Councilwoman Kesha Hodge Washington, District 8, where Phoenix Sky Harbor is located.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, America’s Friendliest Airport®, has an annual economic impact of more than $38 billion. On an average day, approximately 1,200 aircraft and more than 120,000 passengers arrive at and depart from Phoenix Sky Harbor. PHX Sky Harbor is funded with airport revenue. No tax dollars are used to support the airport.