The terminal was inaugurated in 1968 by Anastasio Somoza Debayle under the name of Las Mercedes International Airport. Las Mercedes was designed to be able to be used by Boeing 707 aircraft.
In the early 1970s, Las Mercedes was expanded to more modern standards, with four health inspectors, eight immigration officers and ten customs inspectors. It was fully equipped with air conditioning, background music, loudspeakers and conveyor belts for baggage handling.
This expanded airport could serve three aircraft at once, and by 1975, Pan Am and Iberia, as well as other, smaller local carriers, flew into Las Mercedes.
When the Sandinistas took power, the airport was named after Augusto César Sandino, a Sandinista guerrilla leader. The Sandinistas did not maintain the airport, and it began to deteriorate, until it was expanded and remodelled in 1996, when, among other things, two new boarding bridges were installed. The airport was renamed "Managua International Airport" in 1990 after the Sandinista defeat that year.
Today, approximately 350 people are employed at Managua International Airport, and Boeing 707s, 727s, 737s, Boeing 757s and Boeing 767s can land at the airport.
A large expansion programme was underway by 2003.
The airport has served for a very long time as a hub for Nicaragua's flag carrier, Nica. When Nica became a member of Grupo TACA during the 1990s, the number of important connections to the rest of Latin America from Managua International Airport grew considerably.
A number of major international airlines serve the airport, including American Airlines, Copa, Continental Airlines,Aero Caribbean and TACA. Pan Am no longer serves this airport; that airline went bankrupt in 1991 and its current reincarnation is concentrated on flights across the eastern United States, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic only.