Aena came into being through article 82 of Law 4 on General State Budgets in 1990, becoming effectively established on 19 June 1991. From that time onwards Aena has had its own legal personality and full public and private management capacity.
This symbiosis means that Aena is governed by public law in its public functions, and by private law in all matters relating to its assets and hiring decisions.
The guidelines for operation of the new entity were set by the Government by the then Ministry of Transport, Tourism and Communications, that gave it the following powers:
- Management of the Spanish airport network.
- Facilities management
- Navigational aid network and air traffic control.
Since its beginnings, Aena has carried out a full and comprehensive modernisation of Spanish airport and air navigation facilities, thereby positioning our airports at the forefront of our neighbouring countries. The adaptation of airport installations to the Schengen Agreement meant a total refurbishment of the existing infrastructures. These were supplemented with major infrastructure works aimed at preparing for events happening in 1992 - the Barcelona Olympic Games and the Seville Universal Exposition - as well as the construction of new terminals in the Málaga and Jerez airports.
Throughout the nineties, Aena experienced a profound change in its management structures. It adapted to a new business model while also launching new operational management systems based on the implementation of new technologies.
It is also worth mentioning the construction and opening of new shopping centres that reflected the new approach to airport management culture, in line with new European trends.
After improvements in 1992, Aena undertook a major refurbishment of the Palma de Majorca and Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas airports. These were followed by works at almost all the airports in the network, which had grown with the inauguration of two new airports in La Gomera and León.
The beginning of the new century marked Aena's management taking charge of three new airports in Colombia and twelve in Mexico, which became a great platform for Aena International.
The completion in recent years of the Plan Barajas, Plan Barcelona and Plan Málaga projects has led to the improvement and expansion of the three major airports in the peninsular area. This work has been complemented by the opening to air traffic of the new Logroño, Albacete, Burgos, Huesca-Pirineos airports, and the Ceuta and Algeciras heliports. These now constitute the most important airport network at the international level.
A Cabinet decision of 25 February 2011 created the trading company Aena Aeropuertos. That company was given the functions and duties previously carried out by the public business entity Aena for the management and operation of airport services.
Following its internationalisation policy, in 2013 Aena acquired 66% of the share capital in Aerocali. It also acquired the concessionaire of London Luton Airport, the fifth largest British airport with 9.6 million passengers, with a 51%. stake held by Aena.
Through Royal Decree-Law 8, of 4 July 2014, the company’s name changed from Aena Aeropuertos, S.A. to Aena, S.A. (In April 2017, according to the provisions of Law 40/2015 on the legal regime applicable to the public sector, which establishes that the abbreviation S.M.E. must be appear in the name of state-owned corporations, the company’s name was adapted to Aena SME, S.A.)
At the same time, and through the same piece of legislation, public business entity Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea, Aena, became Enaire, exclusively executing responsibilities related to airport and air navigation activities, in addition to performing the national and international operational coordination of the Spanish air traffic control network.