Wujiaba is among the oldest airports in China, with a history that can be traced back over 100 years to the early 20th century, when Wujiaba Airport was first built under the supervision of local warlord, General Tang Jiyao.
During the Sino-Japanese War, which began before World War II, the airport was expanded. It was a base for operations of the legendary "Flying Tigers", the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG), of the Chinese Air Force, led by Claire Lee Chennault before the United States entered the war. After the US entered the war in December 1941, and starting in 1942, Wujiaba Airport was the headquarters of numerous United States Army Air Forces units, including the Fourteenth Air Force and later the Tenth Air Force.
The USAAF Air Transport Command (ATC) established a major air transport facility at the airport, which connected flights west to Chabua Airfield, India, with other routes within China Jiangbei Airport (Chunking); Chengtu Air Base, and Banmaw Airport (Bhamo, Burma). After the war ended in 1945, a 1,390-mile (2,224 kilometer) route east to Clark Air Base in the Philippines was established. The route to Clark AB established a complete worldwide transport route for ATC
When China Yunnan Airlines existed, its head office was located at the airport.