The airport genesis dates back to 1969 when a study by Landrum & Brown examined a means of accommodating aviation growth in the Albuquerque area.
In 1970 the City and County appointed a joint Metropolitan Airport Evaluation Committee to study the need for facilities. The group, which received support services from the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments, was later renamed the Metropolitan Airport Development Committee.
In 1972 the State of New Mexico commissioned a study to prepare a state airport system plan. That plan identified an "urgent need" for additional general aviation facilities in the Albuquerque area. FAA grant money was received toward the development of a reliever airport master plan.
In 1974 the Council of Governments formed the West Mesa Air Facility Land Acquisition Task Force and sought out federal funding for land acquisition. Public hearings produced considerable controversy over the need for a new airport.