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Moody’s upgrades KCI bonds, watches redevelopment plans

Better finances helped earn a higher debt rating at Kansas City International Airport.
Better finances helped earn a higher debt rating at Kansas City International Airport. dpulliam@kcstar.com

Better finances at Kansas City International Airport prompted ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service to raise its ratings on some airport bonds.

Moody’s cited the airport’s “continued improvement” in key financial measurements, including its ability to service its interest and debt payments and maintain needed cash on hand.

A higher rating can lower the airport’s costs to borrow. The new rating of A1 applies to senior liens and a new rating of A2 applies to subordinate liens covered by the ratings update.

Moody’s also said it is keeping an eye on redevelopment plans at KCI. Its new ratings credit the airport’s ability to work with airlines on a terminal redevelopment plan. Kansas City Mayor Sly James last year put a vote on redevelopment plans on hold.

Future ratings could change based on KCI’s ultimate redevelopment. The debt ratings could also improve under capital improvements that left the stronger debt service in place and “600 days’ cash on hand,” Moody’s said.

Moody’s also said ratings could suffer should the city adopt a terminal redevelopment plan that “involves significant operational impacts” at the airport, increases airline costs above other airports without having a long-term agreement with airlines, or fails to use “best management practices for construction management.”

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar

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