In the spring of 1938, the Kemijärvi municipal council made an initiative to the Ministry of Transport to build an airfield in Kemijärvi, justifying it with local reasons and as an addition to the traffic safety of the Petsamo flight route. The Road and Water Works Board and the Ministry of Defense supported the project, and the construction plan was drafted during the same year. 

Construction work on the airfield continued despite the Winter war. After the runways were leveled and marked, the first phase of the airfield was completed and in usable condition in the summer of 1940. At the time, its gravel/heather-covered runways were 700–800 meters long. During peacetime, the airfield was included into the control area of ​​the 4th Aviation Regiment, but the use of the airfield remained fairly limited.

In 1941, the journey of the German military forces to Kemijärvi and Salla passed through Kemijärvi airfield. As the the heavy traffic by the passing Germans damaged the airfield, a new highway was built past the airfield. In the summer of 1941, construction work also began at the airfield. According to airfield data from 1941–1942, the runways at Kemijärvi airfield were sandy and its south-north runway was 900x60 meters long.

The use of the airfield by Germans already started in June 1941, when Henschel Hs 126 reconnaissance planes were transferred to the airfield from Rovaniemi. After the start of the war, the airfield became the base of the close reconnaissance squadron and the Junkers Ju 87 squadron, when the 1.(H)/32 and I./SG5 air units operated from the field. 

Ruins of a hangar at the airfield.
Ruins of a hangar at the airfield.

The Germans built several aircraft hangars, shrapnel shelters, residential barracks, depots, defense stations and protective equipment at the airfield and in its immediate vicinity. The above-ground parts of such constructions were typically painted with camouflage colors. On June 1, 1943, the air base's accommodation capacity was reported to be 1720/1860 men and one fighter/Stuka squadron. At the time, the airport had four 88 mm cannons, three 37 mm and 22 20 mm cannons and the ammunition for these.

In the fall of 1944, the base was at its largest, and at that time I/NSGr.8 and IIIJG5 units also operated from the airfield. Around this time, the Germans began to retreat to northern Norway. The Luftwaffe troops left Kemijärvi airbase before mid-October, destroying the majority of constructions as they left.