Ongoing tariff issues and rising interest rates are among the developments likely to shape broader economic movement, though strong overall performance for U.S. airports should continue undeterred for the foreseeable future according to Fitch Ratings in its latest annual peer review for the sector.

Since Fitch's 2017 peer review, Fitch upgraded ratings for three airports and has revised the Rating Outlook on five airports over the last year to Positive (Cleveland, Houston, Clark County/Las Vegas, Rhode Island, and St. Louis). Both Denver and Los Angeles International airports both were assigned 'payment obligation' ratings by Fitch in conjunction with their respective public-private-partnerships using availability pay financings. The lone negative outlier remains Dayton International Airport in Ohio, which Fitch downgraded earlier this year.

Fitch-rated airports are still largely entrenched in 'A' territory. 'Airports in general are showing a lot of resilience as the industry continues to evolve and event-driven challenges from the broader economy take shape,' said Senior Director Seth Lehman. 'Over 90% of the airports Fitch rates currently have a Stable Rating Outlook, which signifies continued stability deep into next year.'

GDP growth and general airline health remain the most important revenue gauges for airports, though rising rates could make borrowing debt more expensive for airports with a substantial pipeline of investments on the horizon. 'Trade issues do not appear to be the most challenging event, but they are worth watching for U.S. airports if they become more contentious,' said Lehman.