CHICAGO - Moody's Investors Service last week rated the first airport debt issue backed by passenger facility charges.

But while the agency assigned an A rating to $280 million of revenue bonds that McCarran International Airport in Nevada is expected to sell on Aug. 18, it made it clear that the rating was based on the pledge of the airport system's net revenues and not on the passenger facility charges alone.

In a release, Moody's said that because the Federal Aviation Administration has the ability to terminate the charges, "no bond security is derived from this pledge."

"Although the [passenger facility charge] revenues are expected to be sufficient to meet all debt service requirements, it is only the additional pledge of general airport revenues that provides the basis for the A rating on the subordinate lien debt," the agency wrote.

In June, Moody's issued a report that said that airport debt, secured solely with revenues from the charges, would be unlikely to achieve an investment-grade rating of Baa or above.

A rating on the McCarran airport issue is pending from Standard & Poor's Corp.

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