History

The origins of commercial aviation in Asturias date back to the year 1952, when the airline Aviaco established a scheduled passenger route connecting it with Madrid. In order to do so, the airline used a Bristol 170 plane, and based itself at the military aerodrome of La Morgal (Lugo de Llanera) near Oviedo. In June 1963, for technical reasons, the aerodrome closed to commercial traffic, which left the region of Asturias was without commercial flight connections until five years later.

Several sites were considered for the location of the new airport, and land was finally chosen near Santiago del Monte, a town in Castrillón, by the coast and at an altitude of 126 metres. .

Opening of the new airport

On 11 June 1968, the opening of the new airport to national and international civil air traffic for passengers, during daytime and night-time operating hours, was officially announced. For the purpose of airport rights, the new Asturian airport was classified within the first administrative category. The total budget of the work had barely reached 150 million pesetas.

The first commercial flight, although without passengers, was completed four days after the airport opened to traffic, on 15 June, with a Madrid-Asturias return flight on an Iberia Fokker F.27. The next day the aeronautical authorities visited the Asturian airport to inaugurate its facilities. That night, entertainment was provided by the Castrillón City Council in the Salinas Sailing Club.

On 17 June 1968, a DC-9 EC-BIU plane took off from Madrid-Barajas, in which the Head of State, Francisco Franco, and his entourage travelled, escorted by the military jets F-104 from the Torrejón Air Base. The plane landed at the new Asturian airport at 10.52 a.m.

The first commercial route linked Asturias with Madrid, and a short while later another route linking Santiago de Compostela with Barcelona came into service, with stopovers in Asturias and Bilbao.

From the moment it started operating, Asturias airport dealt with international traffic via a customs office in Avilés.

During this first stage, Asturias airport already had a runway measuring 2,200 metres in length, and with a width of 45 metres, as well a 17,000 square metre aircraft parking platform linked to the runway via a perpendicular taxiway.

The passenger terminal building covered an area of 2,600 square metres, and opposite it an apron with a capacity of 150 spaces.

Expansion and improvements

In 1982, the first major alterations were carried out on the airport. The aircraft parking platform doubled in size, and more than two thousand square metres of additional space were constructed. Thus, the airport's passengers and service areas trebled in size, and five check-in desks, two boarding gates and two arrivals gates, a new cafeteria-restaurant and several shops were added. That year it received 259,000 passengers, 5,092 aircraft and 1,124,211 kg of cargo.

In 1994, a new modernisation and extension plan for Asturias airport began via which the space occupied by the passenger and services terminal building was increased to 8,700 square metres. The building was equipped with new air-conditioning, more information for the public was provided, followed by signalling, security and mechanisation of luggage, the remodelling of the power plant and the implementation of a waste-water purifying plant. A 900-metre long taxiway was built and the apron and car park were extended. New buildings were built for hire vehicles, the car-wash service and for refuelling. That year, 7,182 aircraft, 486,000 passengers and 482,442 kg of cargo were recorded.

In the year 2000, the apron was extended from five to seven spaces, a new access was built to the taxiway and, finally, runway axis lights were installed after it was extended.

In 2003, work was carried out that considerably improved passenger and aircraft service. A new 1.450 m taxiway with fast runway exit, a new car park with 172 spaces for Aena employees and franchisees, the start-up of the CAT II/III ILS that allows for the number of reduced visibility movements to be increased, and the expansion of the terminal building with the installation of three boarding/disembarking corridors are the most important work carried out.

If you would like more information, you can obtain the work by Rafael de Madariaga and Luis Utrilla, Historia de los aeropuertos de Vitoria (History of Vitoria Airports).