Denver Airport:

Operating Results and Financial Risks

AIMD-96-27: Published: Feb 9, 1996. Publicly Released: Feb 14, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Denver International Airport's (DIA) financial condition, focusing on DIA: (1) cash reserves and estimated cash flows; and (2) ability to meet its financial obligations.

GAO found that: (1) predicting the future financial performance of DIA is difficult, since it has been operating for less than 1 year; (2) the difficulties in projecting DIA financial performance relate to the volatility of the airline industry, unexpected construction delays and costs, and the city of Denver's ability to repay airport investors; (3) the Securities and Exchange Commission is formally investigating the adequacy of the city's disclosure of information in bond documents with respect to delays in opening the airport; (4) there is no evidence that DIA will be unable to meet its financial obligations, since DIA has generated positive cash flows in its first 6 months of operation despite operating at well below capacity; (5) DIA debt service costs are expected to remain stable over the next 30 years, while operating and maintenance costs are expected to rise with inflation; and (6) as of September 1995, DIA had an operating cash balance of $57 million and held $420 million in reserve funds, of which $260 million could be used in the event of a financial crisis.