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, leaving Asturias without commercial flight connections for the next five years.
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, it was officially announced that the new airport would open to national and international civil air traffic for passengers with daytime and night-time operating hours. 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 at the Salinas Sailing Club.
On 17 June 1968, a DC-9 EC-BIU plane took off from Madrid-Barajas carrying Head of State, Francisco Franco, and his entourage, escorted by F-104 military jets 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 as a 17,000 square metre aircraft apron linked to the runway via a perpendicular taxiway.
The passenger terminal building covered an area of 2,600 square metres and, opposite it, there was 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 apron doubled in size, and more than two thousand square metres of additional floor space was constructed. Thus, the airport's passenger and service areas trebled in size, and five check-in desks, two boarding gates, 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 plan to modernise and expand Asturias Airport began, increasing the space occupied by the passenger and services terminal building to 8,700 square metres. The building was equipped with new air-conditioning, and more information for the public was provided, followed by signage, 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 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 centre line 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 a 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 works carried out.
In 2012 a surface movement radar (SMR) was installed, completing the implementation of air navigation surveillance technological systems. Together with this, more infrastructures and 1,770 m2 of surface area in the terminal were added to meet demand, with a new baggage reclaim hall, a new passport control post for international flights and a new security check and checked luggage processing system. An additional 2,500 m2 of surface area for parking for ground support teams was also constructed.
In 2017 a new power plant was built in a 4,270 m2 building. The equipment for connections to the outside network, transformer stations and energy supply through uninterruptible power supply and generator systems was updated and expanded. Likewise, the ILS system was updated with state-of-the-art equipment.
In 2021 a project to modernise the runway and landing strips and improve their operation conditions was completed. A complete resurfacing and levelling of adjacent land was carried out, as well as renovations to the draining systems, signage and aeronautical light systems and power feeds using LED lighting technology.