Prior to the construction of the airport, Papeete was served by Short Sandringham "Bermuda" flying boatseaplanes operated by Reseau Aerien Interinsulaire (RAI). Following the opening of the new airport in 1960, TAI began serving Papeete directly with DC-7C flights once a week on a round trip routing of Nouméa (NOU) - Nadi (NAN) - Papeete (PPT) - Honolulu (HNL) - Los Angeles (LAX) . By 1979, UTA was operating all of its Papeete flights with DC-10-30 jets, with nonstops to Los Angeles, Auckland and Nadi, and direct one stop service to Sydney and Nouméa as well as multistop service to Jakarta, Singapore, Bahrain and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. In 1983, UTA was operating Boeing 747 service into the airport in addition to its DC-10-30 flights.
Fa'a'ā International Airport is relatively small. Air Tahiti has daily flights to most other islands in French Polynesia. There are international flights to Chile, mainland-France, Japan, New Zealand and the United States. The airport is on Tahiti, which is an island among the Windward Islands, the eastern part of the Society Islands. Because of limited level terrain, rather than leveling large stretches of sloping agricultural land, the airport is built primarily on reclaimed land on the coral reef just off-shore.
The airport is operated by Setil Aéroports and has a single 3,420 m (11,220 ft) runway, that can accommodate aircraft up to Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 size.