The first flights in Siagne Valley go back to the year 1905.
The airport was completed on its current site in 1930 by private individuals. Then, in 1937, it became a government airport, managed by the Air Secretariat. Subsequently, the government increased its surface area to 155 hectares (79 hectares of which are in the Commune of Cannes and 36 in that of Mandelieu). At that time, since it was the only airport for the whole of the Côte d'Azur, Air France flights landed at Cannes.
After the Liberation, the partially destroyed facilities were rebuilt and a 1,100-metre runway constructed. The airport then took the name "Cannes-Mandelieu".
The foreseeable development of commercial flights and new aircraft features led to the search for another site on which to build a new airport. The chosen site was at the mouth of the Var plain, since the hills surrounding Cannes in fact made it impossible to land large carriers there.
In order to modernise the infrastructures and build the airport terminal and hangars, in 1966 the French government granted the airport to the Alpes Maritimes Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The aim of the Consular Body, today called the Nice Côte d'Azur Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is to manage and continually adapt these facilities to the region’s economic requirements. Cannes-Mandelieu Airport can therefore fulfil its purpose as a hub for business and tourism on the French Riviera.
On 25 July 2008, the concession is transferred to the public limited company Aéroports de la Côte d'Azur, created for this purpose on 28 December 2006. This company already manages Nice Côte d'Azur Airport and will also take over the management of the Gulf of Saint-Tropez Airport in 2013.
Currently, depending on the year, Cannes Mandelieu Airport is the second or third largest airport in Europe in terms of general aviation traffic. However, this type of aviation represents only a small part of its traffic (around 17%), which is mainly represented by flight clubs, flight schools, government aviation or clubs dedicated to aerobatics training, for instance.
Cannes Mandelieu operates as an airport system with Nice Côte d'Azur in the management of private flights, as heavier aircraft are unable to land there, while lighter aircraft have access to a parking area better suited to their needs.
The airport also hosts the departmental SDIS (Departmental Fire and Rescue Service) base.