Following the announcement by the Luft Hansa airline, in the summer of 1929, of its intention to fly from Berlin to Tenerife, the Island Council decided to prepare a provisional aerodrome to serve this flight. The lack of time made it advisable to use the plain at Los Rodeos, where the council prepared a surface area of 17 hectares, which it would lease for the aforementioned purpose. Work ended in late summer, but the arrival of Luft Hansa’s plane would have to wait: mechanical trouble forced it to return from Seville, where it was preparing to continue its flight to Tenerife, to Berlin. A second attempt by the German airline was made in December. On the 5 December, the Arado VI aeroplane, which had originally departed from Berlin, took off from Seville en route to Tenerife.
For some years, the Island Council was indecisive about where to locate the airport. In 1930, it asked the Government to declare Los Rodeos airfield as a national airport, together with the land adjacent to Los Cristianos bay, offering the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife as a provisional airport while the required works were carried out. The Royal Order dated 14 May 1930 approved the designation of Los Rodeos airfield and Los Cristianos bay as national airports, but rejected the declaration of the Santa Cruz seaport as a national airport.
In 1936, the Council began works to improve Los Rodeos airfield, which, at the time, occupied a surface area of 43 hectares. After closure during the Civil War, the airport reopened to traffic on 23 January 1941, with the arrival of Iberia airlines' Dragon Rapide aeroplane from Gando. In the summer, construction began on the passenger terminal and on an aircraft hangar. The works concluded in 1943.
During 1945, a tarmac runway was built. On 3 May 1946, a ministerial order officially opened the airport to traffic, while a decree dated 12 July classified it as a customs airport open to all types of domestic and international traffic.
In 1949, the airport was equipped with a goniometer and a windsock as navigational aids. That same year, runway border lighting and a ground-to-air radio service were added. The airport was then ready for night-time operations.
The problems of airport access were resolved when the access construction works for all sections between the airport and Santa Cruz de Tenerife were classified as urgent.
Despite the works carried out at Los Rodeos, the Council was aware of the inconveniences of its location and of the frequent presence of mist and fog. In addition, the arrival of DC-8 jets in 1962 forced the local authorities to make a final decision on the future of Los Rodeos. The most immediate and economical solution was still Los Rodeos, so they approved the extension of the runway and the installation of the necessary navigational aids. The works on the airfield began in the autumn of 1964; one year later, construction began on a new control tower and the extension of the aircraft parking apron.
The construction of runway 12-30 made it necessary to install conduits in El Barranco del Rodeo, which resolved the problem of periodic flooding suffered by the airport. In 1971, the runway was reinforced to cater for the new Boeing 747, and an instrument landing system (ILS) was installed.
In 1978 the airport authorities decided to close Los Rodeos airport to international traffic (leaving it open to domestic and inter-island flights only) and build a new airport in the southern part of the island.
In 2002 a new passenger terminal came into operation, in response to growing demand. The airport now offers flights to many destinations in Spain and abroad, and is firmly established as a gateway to the island.
For more information, you can purchase the book by Julián Oller and Luis Utrilla, Historia del Aeropuerto de Tenerife Norte.