The airfield was built by the Air Ministry in 1940 as Royal Air Force station Dalcross (RAF Dalcross), and was in use during the Second World War. The airport was opened for civil operations in 1947. British European Airways, one of the predecessors of British Airways, commenced flights to London-Heathrow in the mid-1970s using a combination of Hawker Siddeley Trident jets and Vickers Viscounts. In the late 1970s and early 1980s there were two daily flights between Inverness and Heathrow; however, the route was discontinued in 1983 on the grounds of poor financial performance. Dan-Air inherited the service and offered a three-times daily service. When Dan Air was bought by British Airways in 1992, the flag carrier retained the service for a further five years, adding a fourth daily frequency shortly before withdrawing the link, amid considerable controversy and public anger, in 1997.
The emergence of EasyJet as a force in UK aviation coincided with the launch of a daily service to London-Luton in 1996. The airport is a hub on the Highlands and Islands network where flights between the islands, and other UK and European destinations connect. easyJet is currently the largest operator at Inverness, followed by Loganair.
Latest figures state 946,391 passengers passed through the airport in 2019. The airport is also headquarters to Dalcross Handling which now operates across Scotland.