History

On 19 February 1921, the Ministry of Public Works authorised Gumersindo Acosta Hernández to install an air transport service for the company Marítimo Canaria in the maritime-land area of Tazacorte Beach. This is the first mention of an air service in La Palma. In the fifties, the new economic, educational and health needs gave rise to plans to build a new airport.

The relief of the island, with mountains over 2,300 metres high, made it difficult to find an area of flat land close to the main population centres. A small plain was chosen, located at an altitude of around 350 metres above sea level and about eight kilometres from the capital, Santa Cruz de La Palma. On this plain there was room to build on a strip of land measuring one thousand by one hundred metres. This airport –which would be called Buenavista– was built between 1953 and 1954 and was opened to domestic civil air traffic, international tourist traffic and international technical stopovers on 22nd September 1955.

The air services were carried out by military Junker 52s and a few DC-3s belonging to Iberia, which flew on alternate days to Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Due to the frequent rainfall at the new airport, which made the runway unusable, the Ministry of Aviation had to built a tarmac runway. In the summer of 1956, the airport was closed for resurfacing, which would not finalise until the beginning of 1958. At this time the airport had a tarmac runway, designated 03-21, an aircraft parking apron for one sole aircraft and a wooden hut with a corrugated roof that served as its terminal.

New location

During the following years, the rain and crossed winds obliged the suspension of operations on more than fifteen occasions. Neither improvements in the drainage, nor the construction of a taxiway improved the situation, as the proximity of the mountains provoked wind changes and stagnant fog. All these circumstances, together with the physical impossibility of improving the airport, led the aeronautical authorities to look for a new location.

An area of land was chosen, parallel to the coast and almost at sea level, in the municipality of Mazo. Once the project had been drawn up, work was carried out to built a runway –designated 01-19– which opened to traffic on 15 April 1970. The entry into service of this strip and the growing increase in traffic made it advisable to construct a breakwater, which, once filled in, provided a flat area large enough to extend the already existing runway at one end. On 1st April 1980 the new runway was opened to traffic.