NEC Group chief executive Paul Thandi is right to remind us that a runway extension at Birmingham International Airport is not absolutely guaranteed to be a rip-roaring success with airlines across the world queuing up to fly directly to the West Midlands.
If it was as simple as that, Manchester Airport with its longer runway already in place would be performing far better than is actually the case.
A much-needed ability to handle long haul flights non-stop between BIA, the Far East and the west coast of America will put in place important building blocks required to push Birmingham and the West Midlands on its journey to global importance. There is little doubt, if the runway were to be rejected, that the regional economy would suffer as a result.
But the mere fact that a longer runway in place is not guaranteed to deliver, in Mr Thandi’s words, a silver bullet generating millions of pounds for local businesses.
He has been brave enough to admit that the NEC needs to improve outdated facilities – and a major step towards that will happen later this year when the LG Arena opens for business, while the granting of a casino licence should provide a further attraction for lucrative conferences from America.
But there remains less clarity over the final piece in the jigsaw – an integrated transport hub at the airport/NEC based on a high speed rail link to Birmingham city centre. The link might be by Metro tram, although that seems unlikely, or by a government-backed new line to Heathrow and central London, or even by a unique monorail service.
There are many options, but little time remaining to deliver such a major transportation project. One thing is certain: BIA deserves far better links to Birmingham city centre than is currently the case