In October 1932, a group of aeronautical enthusiasts decided to build a flying club in Santiago de Compostela. On 28 December, the first board of directors was formed, which two years later would select the land for the establishment of an aerodrome in the area called Crucero Bonito, in the municipality of Lavacolla.
The first work, at the beginning of 1935, involved earthworks to level and flatten the three landing zones, forming a triangle of runways measuring 1100 by 200 metres, 950 by 150 metres and 600 by 125 metres.
Despite the military nature acquired by the Lavacolla aerodrome at the beginning of the Civil War, an Airport Council was created in February 1937, with the purpose of establishing an air route to the city. Scheduled commercial services began on 27 September 1937, with the Santiago-Salamanca-Valladolid-Zaragoza air route.
Between 1940 and 1942 the works for the “Levelling of the north-south runway and central area at the Lavacolla aerodrome” were carried out by the Battalion of Working Soldiers (no. 28, 29 and 30) and by Santiago residents who, from the beginning of the Compostela Aerodrome project, were obliged to hard labour on the works of the airfield.1
Provisional opening to international and domestic civilian traffic, with commercial traffic refuelling stops, took place on 30 June 1947. A simple wooden hut served as protection for travellers against inclement weather.
In the summer of 1948, works began to asphalt the north-south runway. The tread runway and parking were built between 1953 and 1954, when a communications centre was erected and an omnidirectional radio beacon was installed to improve navigational aids.
In 1958, the airport runway lights were put into service. A portable ILS locator was installed at departure point 35 and a radio beacon placed at number 17. The power plant was built in the spring of the same year. In 1961, VOR equipment was installed.
During the three-year period between 1964-1967, runway 36/18 was expanded, an ILS was installed, the firefighting complex was built, the taxiway and apron were improved and enlarged and a new control tower and a new passenger terminal were constructed.
In 1981, a cargo terminal was built and enlarged two years later. In 1982, the customs service was established for passengers and luggage, and it was later extended to cover export and import goods.
The passenger terminal, built in 1969, has been enlarged on several occasions. In 1993, it was also equipped with a Cat II/III ILS which enables it to operate aircraft in low visibility conditions and thus significantly reduce detours and cancellations due to adverse weather conditions (fog and low cloud). The airport has one runway and an aircraft apron with a specific area for general aviation.
In October 2011, the Ministry of Public Works, through Aena, opened a new infrastructure to multiply capacity and operational capability and to improve the quality of airport services. The new terminal, new car park, new access roads, along with the extended aircraft apron, new power plant and new control tower will enable 4 million passengers to be served with the maximum guarantees of safety, quality and service.
On 2 April 2020, the Official State Gazette published the new name of the airport, now known as Santiago-Rosalía de Castro Airport, in recognition of the most celebrated writer in the Galician language to celebrate the 180th year of her birth and in homage to her memory, her contribution to European literature, and her battle for the recovery and shaping of Galician identity.
1Rodríguez Arias, X., (2017), 100 Anos de aviación en Compostela, Santiago, España. Andavira Editora and Consorcio de Santiago.