The aviation industry contributes $6.4 billion to the Iowa economy, both in dollars generated by airport activity and in companies that produce components for aviation services, according to a report issued this week by the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The Iowa Aviation Economic Impact Report, issued on Tuesday, also includes the effect of military aviation units at airports around Iowa, and the future impact of drones.


"The aviation and aerospace industries provide important services and generate significant economic impact in Iowa," Iowa DOT Aviation Director Tim McClung said in the report. "However, the larger impact comes from the benefits users gain by having a strong aviation system that supports the movement of people and goods. A healthy and vibrant system is an important component to Iowa’s friendly business climate."

Some highlights from the report:

  • 4 million passengers board planes at Iowa airports annually.
  • 90,000 tons of air cargo passes through Iowa airports each year.
  • Business travelers flew to 49 states and 27 countries.
  • 4,100 patients were transported by air medical.
  • More than 400 aircraft are used for spraying about 5 million acres.
  • Five higher education programs and flight training are offered at 47 airports.


In Des Moines, more than 2.1 million passengers have passed through the airport through September of this year, the most recent data that is available. That is a 37% increase from the same period in 2021. For the first nine months of 2022, more 57,800 tons of cargo passed through the Des Moines International Airport, up 4.1% from the same period in 2021.

According to the report, the information it contains is intended to help groups, including local, state and federal officials, make informed decisions related to operations and investments in Iowa’s air transportation system. The information can also be used to educate the public in the uses and benefits of aviation in the state.