TEXT-Fitch: American Airlines, US Airways merger is credit neutral to Latin American Airports
Feb 19 - The merger announcement of two of the largest North American air carriers, American Airlines and US Airways, is not likely to adversely affect Latin American and Caribbean rated airports, according to Fitch. Fitch considers the merger, even if causing future changes and reductions to frequencies, is unlikely to negatively impact the Latin American rated airports' projected traffic performance and/or revenues. With respect to the Caribbean airports, "both airlines serve different destinations and market sources, and present limited or no overlapping on their routes. Fitch envisages no credit implications to rated airports at this point in time", says Omar Valdez, AD at Fitch. Current market participation of American Airlines and US Airways in Latin American rated airports is low when compared to other carriers servicing international routes. According to the most recent information provided to Fitch by issuers, current frequencies are expected to remain constant in the Latin America region, while the addition of new routes is anticipated. In Caribbean airports rated by Fitch, however, the two airlines have a greater participation, where the average dependency on US passengers is calculated at 71%. Positively, market diversification at these airports is adequate, with no single air carrier enplaning above 20% of international seat capacity. In addition, Fitch believes that any possible unattended demand could be readily absorbed by other carriers, as Caribbean airports benefit from an established tourist base with steady enplanements, and an ample air carrier diversification. Overall current passenger traffic in the region continues to grow steadily, in line with our 2013 Outlook expectations, and providing for better prospects with respect to air traffic volumes going forward. Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.