Aerostar preps San Juan airport debt

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Aerostar Airport Holdings is set to launch a $350 million bond issue for the San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International airport concession once it receives US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval.

The bonds will partially finance the $615 million upfront payment to the Puerto Rico Port Authority. The balance will come from $327.2 million in equity from sponsors Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR) and Highstar Capital, according to a Moody's Investor Services report on 9 January.

The FAA anticipates that it will make a final decision on the deal in February.

Highstar managing director Emmett McCann told Flightglobal earlier this week that Aerostar was on track for a first quarter financial close.

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is arranging the debt, and was also financial adviser to the consortium during the bidding process.

Aerostar said in September that financing would also include a $50 million capital expenditure facility and a $10 million revolving credit line.

Moody's rates the bonds Baa3. It cites a high percentage of originating and departing traffic from the airport and estimates that traffic will grow by about 2% annually during the next few years, in its report.

San Juan had 4.2 million enplanements in 2011, according to Moody's.

Aerostar plans to temporarily close terminals D and E, and make $195 million in upgrades to Luis Munoz Marin including a expanded ticketing and security screening areas, terminal interior updates, new concessions and a new federal inspection services (FIS) facility in terminal A during the first three years of the concession. Terminals D and E are occupied by Oneworld Alliance partners American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia.

The San Juan airport deal would be the first major airport concession in the USA to reach financial close.

Aerostar won the 40-year concession for the airport in July and applied for approval under the FAA's airport privatisation pilot programme in September.