In 1935, then Nashville Mayor Hillary Howse appointed a Citizens Committee to select a site for an airport in Nashville. After months of research, the area chosen was a 340-acre site comprised of four adjoining farms located along the Dixie Highway (now Murfreesboro Road).
Constructed as a Works Progress Administration project, the airport was dedicated in 1936, and officially opened in June of 1937. It was named Berry Field in honor of Colonel Harry S. Berry, State Administrator of the WPA. The three letter identifier, BNA
, stands for Berry Field NAshville. The new airport consisted of a terminal building, two hangars, a 4,000 ft. concrete runway and a flashing beacon. American and Eastern airlines were the first air carriers to serve Nashville, and within the year, 189,000 passengers had used the facilities.
Berry Field became the military base for the 4th Ferrying Command during World War II
. The federal government added additional acreage for its military operations, and in 1946, after the war ended, the military returned a 1,500 acre airport to the city of Nashville.
With the rapid growth of air transportation, Berry Field's facilities became obsolete, and in 1958, the City Aviation Department began plans to expand the airport. A new 145,900-square-foot passenger terminal opened in 1961, a year after the inaugural flight of Nashville's first jet-powered service. Six airlines were then serving Nashville, and airline passengers exceeded half a million people (532,790). In 1963, the existing Runway (2L-20R) was extended by an additional 600 feet, and construction began on a new crosswind Runway (13-31).
In 1969, the General Assembly passed legislation allowing the Airport Authority to be created. In 1970, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville/Davidson County formed the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA), replacing the City Aviation Department. The Authority is a self-supporting public corporation that manages, owns and operates the airport.
The Authority completed a Master Plan in 1973 for long-term growth of the airport. The Plan provided for existing terminal expansion, a new terminal and a new parallel runway east of Donelson Pike to meet future demand.
In 1977, the airport consisted of 3,300 acres with three runways. The passenger terminal was renovated and expanded to 189,000-square-foot Realizing that further expansion would be needed to meet accelerating passenger demand, the Authority updated the 1973 Master Plan in 1980 and began an environmental assessment for a new terminal. The Authority unveiled designs for a new terminal and started site preparation in 1984. Airport revenue bonds in the amount of $128.5 million financed the terminal construction.
In 1985, an additional $76 million in airport revenue bonds were issued to fund terminal program expansion.
A preliminary Environmental Impact Statement on the new parallel north-south runway was completed. In 1987 the airport dedicated the new 750,000-square-foot passenger terminal. Major construction began on the new parallel runway east of Donelson Pike in February 1988. It connected to the existing runways by a taxiway bridge spanning Donelson Pike.
The airport's name was changed to Nashville International Airport in 1988 to reflect present and future international air service goals.
After months of study to determine the best use of the old terminal, it was demolished in 1989. The site is presently designated for aviation support industry in the airport master plan.
The new parallel Runway (2R-20L) was dedicated in 1989.
Today, Nashville International Airport is served by 17 carriers. More than 424 average daily arriving and departing flights operate from 47 air carrier gates. Nashville International provides nonstop and air service to nearly 84 cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. In 1999, the airport handled more than 8.5 million passengers. The terminal has been expanded over the years to accommodate our visitors with 820,000 square feet of space.
As air travel demands increase, the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority is committed to enhancing aviation services and benefits for the residents of the Tennessee, Southern Kentucky and Northern Alabama economic regions.