Aviation began in Vigo in 1911 with an air show presented by the Frenchman Jules Verdines. Two additional aviation festivals took place in 1913, in Coya, and in 1919, at the beach in Panjon.
However, commercial aims were not introduced until the 1920s. Then Vigo was the last European port used regularly by steamboats to and from South America, so they carried all correspondence. For that reason, the Air Mail Technical Commission established a Madrid-Salamanca-Porto-Vigo route, but the contract was never awarded to any company.
In 1927, the Government considered that the construction of an aerodrome in Galicia as a customs post would be of general public interest. At the same time, the port of Vigo was equipped for hydro-aviation. In March 1929, the seaport and the bay of Vigo were opened to official hydro-aviation air traffic. To complement these facilities, a "maritime airport" was built on Cesantes beach, in the town of Redondela.
Meanwhile, the land aerodrome project continued on the area known as "Peinador", near the Vigo-Mondariz tram station. Vigo city council, with the support of several local companies, encouraged the works, but a lack of funds meant the citizens of Vigo, Lavaderos and Mos were obliged to provide their services free of charge.
The establishment of a regular route at the neighbouring airport of Santiago in 1937 relegated the need for the Vigo airport to the background, and work was brought to a near standstill. However, thanks to the determination of the city council, the Air Ministry once again took charge of the works in 1940.
After declaring the works to be "urgent", the airport was built between 1947 and 1952, the year in which the aeronautical obligations were published. Finally, on 20 April 1954, with the complementary facilities yet to be completed, it opened to full domestic and international tourist civil air traffic. The airport had a 1,500 metre-long runway. Five days later, the first aeroplane landed - a DC-3 from Iberia airlines - and thus the Madrid-Vigo route was inaugurated, which a few months later was taken over by Aviaco.
The airport underwent major reforms in the 1970s. In 1973, the control tower was built; one year later, a new passenger terminal was built; and in 1975, the power plant. In 1976, the apron and its connection to the runway were extended. In the following years, the runway was extended to accommodate operations by the DC-9 jet aeroplanes. Thanks to that, the first international flight took place in November 1981.
In 1995, a new terminal was built and the apron was enlarged. The passenger terminal occupies two floors in the main building and includes the areas for departures, arrivals, catering, shops, services and administration offices. The airport has a runway and an aircraft parking apron, part of which is used as a heliport. There is also a control tower, a cargo terminal, a fire and rescue building, a transmitter station, a general aviation zone and a power plant.
In 2004, the Category II/III Instrument Landing System (ILS) became operational. Peinador became the fifth airport in the Aena network to be equipped with this advanced technology system which makes it possible for aircraft to operate in conditions of reduced visibility and significantly reduces the number of flight diversions and cancellations due to adverse weather conditions (fog and low clouds).
For more information, you can acquire the work by Patricia Álvarez and Luis Utrilla, Historia del Aeropuerto de Vigo (History of Vigo Airport).
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