At the end of the First World War, Frenchman Pierre George Latécoére was granted clearance from the French and Spanish governments to establish an airline route between France and their African and South American colonies. The first stage of this route, Toulouse-Casablanca, was inaugurated in 1919 with stopovers at the airports of Barcelona, Alicante and Malaga. For the second stage, Casablanca-Dakar, the Canary Islands were considered as a stopover point and link with America. In April 1930, the land and maritime facilities to be built in Gando were declared a national airport by Royal Decree.
In 1933, the first passenger flight took place and in 1935 this route became the Madrid-Canary Islands route. The first navigation aids were installed in 1934, authorising the operation of a radio-electric station to give service to Gando airport. Between 1944 and 1946 the passenger terminal was built. The airline company offices located in the facilities at the Lanzarote Air Station were then transferred there, thus separating civil and military activities. A Decree passed in July 1946 declared the airport open to all types of domestic and international traffic, classifying it as a customs airport.
In 1948, works was begun to surface the first 700 metres of runway, and this runway was extended, in June 1957, to 2,000 metres, all of it with a tarmac surface. With this extension the airport was classed as a second category facility. That same year works began to improve the control tower facilities, the power plant and the navigational aids.
First category airport
In 1960 the runway was extended to 3,100 metres. A year later, a VOR (unidirectional radio beacon) was installed and a rescue and services park was built. With these improvements, the airport became classified as a first category airport. The following year a power station and a taxiway was built and the airfield perimeter was enclosed.
In 1963 the following works were carried out: new parking areas were built, a radio-electric link was installed at Dakar (Senegal), the passenger terminal was enlarged, a VASIS (visual approach slope indicator system) was installed, and links between the taxiway and parking areas were built. Construction works on the control tower began at the end of 1966. Until then the tower integrated in the 1946 passenger terminal had been used. The following year the transmitter station was built.
In 1970 building began on a new passenger terminal. Furthermore, the lateral shoulders of the runway and taxiway were adapted for the new jet aircraft traffic that was then coming into operation. The new terminal opened in March 1973 and began to receive domestic traffic. In 1980 the second runway was inaugurated, which made it possible to significantly increase passenger traffic.
The extension to Gran Canaria airport is an important project, part of the Canary Island Airport Infrastructure Plan of the Ministry of Public Works, which plans to invest over 900 million euros in improving Aena's airport network in the Canary Islands.
The refurbishment included an extension to the check-in and arrivals area and the incorporation of new airbridges to give direct access to aircraft. Access roads leading to the airport and the car park were also improved.
The new terminal has a functional, sustainable design that will guarantee efficient management of resources and ensure that the building blends in with its surroundings.
The extension significantly increases the capacity of the airport, enabling it to cater for more than fifteen million passengers a year.