The City of El Paso built the first El Paso Municipal Airport near the east side of the Franklin Mountains in 1928. The airport was closed by 1945 and in more recent times has been home to the Jobe Concrete Products "Planeport" cement factory.
In 1934 Varney Speed Lines (now United Airlines) operated at the original El Paso Municipal Airport (now closed). The original El Paso Municipal Airport construction was inspired by a visit from Charles Lindbergh.
What became today's El Paso International Airport was built as Standard Airport by Standard Airlines in 1929 for transcontinental air mail service. Standard Airlines became a division of American Airlines in the 1930s. In 1936 American Airlines "swapped" airports with the City of El Paso and El Paso International Airport was born.
On August 3, 1961, El Paso was the last stop of the first major US hijacking of a jetliner, a Boeing 707 owned by Continental Airlines.
The passenger concourses were built in 1971 as part of an expansion that tripled the size of the terminal. It was designed by Garland & Hilles.
Serving general aviation at El Paso International Airport, Cutter Aviation established a fixed-base operation in 1982. Cutter Aviation moved to a new facility on Shuttle Columbia Drive in 2006. Atlantic Aviation also serves general aviation at ELP.
El Paso International Airport covers 6,670 acres (2,699 ha) and has three runways:
8R/26L: 9,025 ft × 150 ft (2,751 m × 46 m) Asphalt
8L/26R: 5,499 ft × 75 ft (1,676 m × 23 m) Asphalt
The terminal is a pier-satellite layout. It has a central entrance and the gates branch out east to west on the two concourses. The airport has East and West Concourses. Gates A1A4 are located on the West Concourse and Gates B1B11 is located on the East Concourse. The airport has a total of 15 gates. There is also a lower and upper level. The gates are located on the upper level and the ticketing, baggage claim, rental car, and main entrance are located on the lower level of the terminal. The meeter/greeter area is located on the lower level just behind the escalators that lead to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint leading to the gates. Major terminal renovations have been made over the past several years, designed and managed by the local architectural firm MNK Architects.
The airport access road is Convair Road. Convair Road splits into four lanes with the left two lanes reserved for commercial vehicles and the right two lanes utilized for pickup and drop-off of passengers. In between the split road there is a waiting area where passengers can wait for commercial vehicles to arrive.
Generally, these gates are used by:
Gates A1A3: American Airlines and American Eagle.
Gate B1: Delta Air Lines.
Gates B3B7: Southwest Airlines
Gates B8 and B9:United Express.
Gate B10: Allegiant. Frontier: B11
On July 20, 1982, Douglas C-47D N102BL of Pronto Aviation Services was damaged beyond repair in a crash landing near El Paso International Airport following an engine failure shortly after take-off. The aircraft was on a domestic non-scheduled passenger flight to Tucson International Airport in Arizona when the engine failed and the decision was made to return to El Paso. A single-engine go-around was attempted following an unsafe landing gear warning.
On February 19, 1988, Don McCoy, a private pilot, the owner of El Paso Sand and Gravel, took off in a newly acquired Rockwell Aero Commander 680 in a snowstorm (an aircraft he was not properly rated to fly), and attempted to land again after encountering mechanical trouble in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). The aircraft crashed, killing the owner and two acquaintances. Some later attempted to attribute the accident to US Senator Phil Gramm, as it was alleged that McCoy planned to testify against Senator Gramm's shakedown of campaign contributions made by the El Paso Small Business Administration office.
On January 16, 2006, a mechanic employed by a contractor of Continental Airlines was killed when he was sucked into the right engine of a Boeing 737524 while investigating an oil leak. The aircraft was preparing to depart as Continental Airlines Flight 1515 to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
In April 2015, a Southwest Airlines jet was directed by the tower at ELP to land on a closed runway under construction. The aircraft landed safely but missed construction equipment by "mere feet".
On June 3, 2018, American Airlines Flight 1897, from San Antonio to Phoenix, was diverted to El Paso due to damage sustained by the aircraft after running into a hail storm in flight. The plane was able to land normally, and no injuries were reported.