Santander held its first air festival in 1910. The land used as an aviation field – located to the west of the La Albericia neighbourhood – gradually became the city's first aerodrome: in 1912 two hangars were constructed and the airfield was flattened; in 1913 the Santanderino flying club was formed; the Semanas Aeronáuticas were established...
Years later, over a period of months in 1921, Santander was linked by air to Bilbao and Bayonne through the Network of Cantabrian Hydroplanes of the Franco Bilbaína Aeronautical Transport Company. To enable these operations, the Bay of Santander was authorised to become a customs zone for hydroaviation.
The La Albericia aerodrome continued operating but in 1936 and 1937 activity had to be shared with a new aerodrome called Pontejos or Rubayo, built to the east of the bay. After the civil war, La Albericia would share its low volume of civil traffic with the military base installed there.
In 1948, it was officially opened to national civilian and international tourist traffic and technical stopovers for commercial traffic. In July 1950, Iberia began its air service to Madrid.
However, due to La Albericia’s limitations, the building of a new airport was under consideration by 1945. Following several studies, it was decided to locate the airport on a plot of land in Parayas in the municipality of Maliaño, four kilometres to the south of the city, behind the bay and next to the Raos marshlands.
The new airport was opened on the 25 September 1953 and, that very same day, La Albericia was closed for good. Parayas had a runway that was 1,150 metres long by 70 metres wide, a small terminal building, airport offices, customs and a control tower.
In December of 1959, the tide broke through the sea wall that enclosed the wetlands and sea water flooded the runways and airport buildings. The airport grounds suffered great damage. During the following years, a new dyke had to be built which was capable of withstanding the sea’s onslaught.
In 1965 Parayas was officially named Santander Airport and, in 1967, an outpost of the Air Rescue Service was established there.
However, once again the airport became too small and in 1973, it was decided that a major redesign was required. The runway was lengthened to 2,400 metres and this was followed by the construction of a new terminal building, a transmission station, a fire station, a power plant and a new control tower. Work was completed in 1976 with the runway lighting, apron lighting, a hangar for helicopters, the water purifying station and the installation of an OM radio beacon. The renovated airport reopened on 8 August 1977.
On 16 April 2015, the Official State Gazette (BOE) published the change in the airport's name to Seve Ballesteros-Santander, in memory of Cantabria's most famous international sportsman.