The airport in the Sierra Nevada just south of Lake Tahoe opened in 1959 with a 5900-ft runway. Beginning in 1962 it had a few airline flights: the first were on Futura Airlines,an intrastate airline, and on Paradise Airlines, both flying Lockheed L-049 Constellations. 1966 Pacific started the first jet service to Lake Tahoe, Boeing 727-100s flying Los Angeles (LAX)-San Jose-Lake Tahoe.Skymark Airlines, a predecessor of Golden West Airlines (which later served the airport as well), flew de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters in the late 1960s nonstop to Sacramento and Fresno and direct to Oakland, San Jose and Monterey.Valley Airlines, another commuter airline, was serving the airport in 1969 with nonstop flights to Reno, San Francisco, San Jose and Stockton.
According to the Official Airline Guide, six regional and commuter airlines were serving Lake Tahoe in spring 1981 including Air Sierra, Aspen Airways, Cal Sierra Airlines, Golden Gate Airlines, Golden West Airlines and Great Sierra Airlines with a combined total of up to 24 flights a dayThe April 1, 1981 OAG edition lists nonstop flights from Burbank, Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orange County, Reno, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Truckee, CA. Jet service resumed in 1983 with AirCal McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and later Boeing 737-300s. AirCal flew nonstop to Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose, CA and direct to Burbank and Orange County.
In 1987 a daily AirCal 737-300 flight was scheduled direct to Chicago O'Hare Airport via San Francisco and Orange County. American Airlines acquired AirCal in 1987 and continued to serve Lake Tahoe with the former AirCal 737-300s but soon switched its service to regional partner American Eagle which operated Saab 340s and Fairchild Swearingen Metroliners to the airport in the 1990s. American was the only major airline to serve Lake Tahoe. In late 1989 American and code sharing affiliate American Eagle were the only airlines at Lake Tahoe, American with Boeing 737-200s and American Eagle with Metro IIIs. At one point Reno Air flew McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and MD-87s nonstop to Los Angeles; other jets included BAC One-Elevens and Convair 990s on nonscheduled casino charters. The four engine Convair 990 jet operated by Denver Ports of Call airlines could land at the airport but could not depart from Lake Tahoe with a full load of passengers, so departing passengers were bused to the Reno airport and boarded the 990 there.
In 1999 Casino Express Airlines operating as Tahoe Air started low fare Boeing 737-200 service nonstop to San Jose and Los Angeles (LAX). Allegiant Air flew McDonnell Douglas DC-9 nonstops to Burbank, Fresno, Las Vegas and Long Beach in 1999-2000. Tahoe Air ceased operations later in 1999 while Allegiant ended all service in 2000 and later became a low fare air carrier that is still in business. Lake Tahoe has not had scheduled passenger flights since, and the area is now served by Reno-Tahoe International Airport and Sacramento International Airport.
Due to budget cuts in 2001, the FAA ceased funding on-site weather observers who had also served as the airport's air traffic controllers. Unable to find replacement funding, the South Lake Tahoe city council voted to close the airport's Air Traffic Control Tower on October 1, 2004. Despite the tower's closure, the airport continues to serve general aviation traffic using self-announce procedures for uncontrolled airports.
Beginning in 2006, the airport's former commercial airline terminal building was renovated and converted into a new city hall and administrative services office for the City of South Lake Tahoe. Relocating to airport land allowed the city to counter rising lease costs at its old location in the Al Tahoe neighborhood. Renovations were completed and the new city hall opened in 2007.
RWY 18: 108.90