Kamiyama Training Airfield was opened by the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II. It was used by the Japanese Self-Defense Force until 1964, when it was turned over to civilian control as “Jinmachi Airport”. Designated a third-class regional airport, regularly scheduled services began in 1964 by All Nippon Airways to Tokyo (Haneda). The airport was renamed Yamagata Airport in 1965. A helicopter detachment from the JGSDF 6th Division has been based at the airport since 1969. The runway was extended to 1500 meters in 1972, and the airport was re-designated as a Class-II airport in 1979. Services were also started by Japan Airlines and Toa Domestic Airlines. The runway was further extended to 2000 meters in 1981 and a new terminal building completed in 1984. However, the number of passengers using the airport peaked in 1991, and declined precipitously due to the completion of the Yamagata Shinkansen in 1992. All Nippon Airways suspended services and withdrew from the airport in 2002 and Japan Airlines turned services over to its subsidiary, J-Air in 2010.
The airport has had no scheduled ground transportation services since April 2009 due to depressed passenger numbers. In March 2014, Sanko Hire announced that it would resume shuttle bus service between the airport and Yamagata Station, with schedules timed to coincide with flight schedules to and from Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. The shuttle bus will take 35 minutes and cost 1,000 yen.