Air New Zealand Link formerly operated flights to Auckland, operated by Eagle Airways with Beech 1900D aircraft. In November 2014, Air New Zealand announced that it would cease operating the Auckland-Whakatane route from April 2015. Following the announcement, numerous airlines including Sunair expressed interest in continuing the route themselves. Air Chathams announced in January 2015 a twice-daily service to Auckland, starting at the end of April. In April 2015, Sunair also announced it would commence scheduled services from Whakatane to Hamilton, Gisborne and Napier, although the Napier service was eventually cancelled.
The airport also houses a flight school, agricultural aircraft and commercial helicopter operations.
The "excitingly different" terminal building was designed by Roger Walker and completed in 1974.