Madrid National Airport opened on 22 April 1931, but commercial flights did not begin until late in 1933.
To build the large airport to substitute the Getafe and Carabanchel airfields 330 hectares of barren land were chosen near the then town of Barajas, now a district of Madrid city, due to the fact that it was well communicated to the capital via the road to France.
On the airfield, a large white circle with the name of Madrid inside served as a guide for pilots.
On 15 May 1933 a Fokker VII/3M three-engine plane landed, marking the opening of Madrid-Barajas to commercial civilian traffic. The first scheduled routes operated by LAPE, the company that would later become Iberia, were to Barcelona and Seville. That year, with Lieutenant Colonel Jacobo de Armijo y Fernández de Alarcón as the first director, 378 flights were operated, transporting 2,873 passengers.
Soon successive renovations were undertaken to meet the needs of the new aircraft and the first paved 1,400 metre airstrip was built in 1944.
In the 1950s there were half a million passengers a year
In the mid 50s half a million passengers a year used Barajas airport. The Airport continued to grow and adapt to new needs. In 1954 a new terminal was built, called the National Terminal, now Terminal T2. The passenger terminal was completed with a cargo terminal and cargo aircraft aprons.
In 1965, Barajas changed its name to Aeropuerto de Madrid - Barajas.
Jumbo jets "land" in the 70s
In the 1970s, which began with the arrival of Jumbo jets, air traffic doubled to exceed one million passengers a year. In 1971 work commenced on a new passenger terminal devoted exclusively to international flights, now known as Terminal T-1.
The Air Shuttle
Soon after the opening of the International Terminal, what was then known as the Terminal Norte was opened for the Madrid-Barcelona Air Shuttle, with the innovative concept of "arrive and fly". The Iberia airline pioneered this service, which opened in 1974. This service is still in operation and has its own area inside the terminal.
In 1980 extensive refurbishment of the National Terminal was undertaken for the 1982 Football World Cup.
A necessary extension
In 2000, to increase the airport's capacity to 70 million passengers a year the so-called Barajas Plan was put into effect; a third runway and a new control tower were constructed. The extension of the airport included two new runways, parallel to the existing ones, so that they could all function fully and continuously.
This project was completed on 4 February 2006 with the opening of the new terminal which included the current T4 and its satellite building T4S, with a surface area of over 750,000 m² and capacity for 35 million passengers a year and 120 flights an hour, enhancing Madrid-Barajas's standing as a world hub airport.
On 24 March 2014 the official name of the airport was changed to Adolfo Suárez Madrid- Barajas.