Before the seventies, the island of Tenerife only had one airport. During the last years of the sixties, on the occasion of the Air Minister's visit to the works on Los Rodeos Airport (now called Tenerife Norte), the island authorities put forward the need to choose a new location, as the existing airport did not meet technical requirements due to adverse weather conditions.
The Ministry supported the proposal, and the Island Council began the acquisition of land near the towns of Granadilla y San Miguel de Abona. On the 29th of May 1970, the need to occupy the necessary land for a new airport and its additional facilities was declared of public and urgent interest.
On July 1973, The Air Ministry awarded the project for the construction of the airfield, with a budget of almost 450 million pesetas. Right through 1976, the contracts for the construction of the taxiway and connections, the power plant, earth removal and the development of the terminal control area were consecutively awarded. In 1977, the contracts for the construction of the control tower, the installation of the runaway lighting on the primary runway, the taxiway and the terminal building were awarded.
On the 23 October 1978, the Reina Sofía Airport, as it was named, was opened to national and international civil air traffic from 2 November and was considered as a special top category airport open 24 hours a day. That same day, the first plane, an Iberia DC-9 running a flight IB-187 from Lanzarote landed at 10:17.
The official inauguration took place the 6 November 1978. At 11:15 the plane Mystere, owned by the Subsecretariat for Civil Aviation, landed. On board was Queen Sofía, who was welcomed by the Transport Minister, Salvador Sánchez Terán, and other local and provincial authorities. After receiving official honours, she visited the passenger terminal facilities, blessed by the bishop of Tenerife, Luis Franco Gascón. Since that day, more that 140 million passengers have travelled through Tenerife Sur.