Hot on the heels of the new St Pancras, Terminal 5 is another triumph for UK construction
It didn't quite have the razzmatazz of last November's opening of St Pancras and the high-speed rail link, but the official opening of Terminal 5 by the Queen on Friday was still an occasion you couldn't help feeling privileged to witness. Having just flown into Luton airport myself, the contrast couldn't have been starker.
The £4.5bn terminal is vast. It is light and airy, with a magnificent structure that makes it the largest freestanding building in Europe. It feels good to be inside. The only shame is that the enormous electronic screens suspended from the ceiling punctuate the giant steel roof trusses.
The event itself was, not surprisingly, an upbeat affair with no hint of BAA's current financial woes, and dignitaries in attendance included the chairman of BAA, Sir Nigel Rudd, transport secretary Ruth Kelly and the Queen herself. The focus was instead on the new beginning that the project will bring for BAA, for Heathrow and for British Airways - which has exclusive use of the terminal.
Terminal 5 will provide vital support for the capital's economy and boost London's image across the world. It will, they said, bring the glamour back to air travel. It has certainly helped bring some glamour to construction. On time, on budget - for a project as complicated as this one, involving the security issues it has had to contend with, that is a tremendous feat.
This is the second time in six months that the public has been treated to some positive headlines about construction - there's no infernal curse on large infrastructure projects after all. We have world-class engineers and architects, we can open things when we say we can, and we're not bankrupting the government in the process. It will take a long time to lay the ghost of Wembley stadium to rest - but St Pancras and Terminal 5 are making a damn good stab at it.