Though changes in trade and fiscal policies are on the horizon, healthy growth is expected in the U.S. transportation sector, according to Fitch Ratings’ U.S. Transportation Trends special report.
Leading the way for overall growth in airport passenger traffic are international hub airports, with passenger enplanements rising 3.5% in 2016. “Growth in passenger enplanements, however, is and will continue to soften as carriers scale back on service additions,” said Seth Lehman, senior director at Fitch. The ratings agency predicts growth from 2.5% to 3 % in 2017.
Growth in ports is expected to match GDP. Upward movement in the second half of 2016 was led by ports on the West Coast, with 1.8% growth year-over-year, while East Coast ports grew 3.4% in the same time period, though only posted a 0.4% rise last year compared to 2015. “Shifting trade agreements or renegotiated tariffs may affect import/export volumes, though the full effects of these changes will likely extend beyond 2017,” said Director Emma Griffith.
Moderate economic and population growth in the Southeast and Southwest should contribute to high traffic performance for toll roads in those regions. “Toll road revenues are positioned to grow faster than traffic as many authorities implement policies of inflationary toll increases,” said Director Tanya Langman.
Fitch has established a new metric called “Peak Recovery,” outlined in the report, which supplements the ratings agency’s peak-to-trough metric and demonstrates how the 2016 performance for each credit compares to its prerecession peak volume.
– Adam Fusco, associate editor