Illinois Airport of the Year Awards Announced

Reflecting the importance and vitality of the state’s aviation system, 12 airports have received Airport of the Year awards from the Illinois Department of Transportation. The awards were presented last week during the Illinois Public Airports Association Fall Conference in Galena.

“Aviation is one of the key components that goes into making Illinois the transportation hub of North America,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Our aviation partners take great pride in the work they do supporting transportation, jobs and quality of life in their communities. These awards highlight their efforts as well as those of the entire Illinois aviation community.”

The facilities were selected because of their accomplishments, including an outstanding partnership with IDOT and a strong commitment to customer safety and satisfaction. Among the award considerations are cooperation and coordination with the state, safety record, maintenance of the facility, and promotion of aviation and educational events. Due to the pandemic canceling last year’s conference, awards were based on the achievements of the last two years.

The 2020 recipients are:

  • Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport        Primary Airport of the Year
  • St. Louis Downtown Airport                Reliever Airport of the Year
  • Pekin Municipal Airport                  General Aviation Airport of the Year
  • Joliet Regional Airport                     General Aviation Airport of the Year
  • Gen-Air Park Airport                        Privately-owned Airport of the Year
  • Pinckneyville Community Hospital     Heliport of the Year

The 2021 recipients are:

  • Decatur Airport                                  Primary Airport of the Year
  • Waukegan National Airport               Reliever Airport of the Year
  • Southern Illinois Airport               General Aviation Airport of the Year
  • Kewanee Municipal Airport         General Aviation Airport of the Year
  • Frasca Field                                      Privately-owned Airport of the Year
  • University of Chicago Hospitals        Heliport of the Year

Illinois is home to almost 100 public-use airports and heliports, with nearly 3,000 aircraft registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. The system of airports supports more than 492,000 jobs, with a combined payroll of $21.9 billion and a total economic impact of $95.4 billion. Across the state, there are more than 700 aviation facilities, including heliport and grass landing strips as well as balloon, glider and ultra-light landing facilities.

As part of Rebuild Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker’s historic, bipartisan and multimodal capital program, IDOT is making critical investments in aviation infrastructure, with $150 million identified for the state’s airports. This fall, IDOT will be announcing the recipients of $94 million via Rebuild Illinois to be distributed for airport projects through a competitive grant process.

To learn more about aviation in Illinois and the Illinois Aviation System Plan, visit