GATWICK Airport's new chairman has told how the case for future expansion still remains strong.

Sir David Higgins, who is currently the chairman of High Speed 2 (HS2), has been appointed chairman and made the comments ahead of taking up his post on January 1.

He will replace Sir Roy McNulty who will remain on the board at the West Sussex airport as deputy chairman.

Gatwick's bid to build a second runway was rejected by the Government in October in favour of Heathrow expansion.

Sir David said: "Whilst the case for Gatwick expansion in the future remains very strong, the challenge for Gatwick now is to continue to invest so it can maximise the use of its existing facilities and so can do even more for Britain in the coming years."

He has been chairman of the HS2 high speed rail project since March 2014.

Prior to that he was chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority for London 2012 from 2005 to 2011, and held the same position at Network Rail between 2011 and 2014.

Sir David "combines a first class intellect with the ability to give clear strategic direction and make things happen", Sir Roy said.

He added: "He is exactly the right person to lead Gatwick through the next chapter in its development."

A spokesman for HS2 Ltd said: "David isn't leaving. He's with us for at least another year."

Simon Kirby left his position as the rail firm's chief executive this week to take a senior role at aerospace giant Rolls-Royce.

Sir David told the Commons' Transport Select Committee on Monday that Mr Kirby's successor could be paid a bonus to avoid them being bought off by the private sector.

Gatwick operates the world's busiest single runway airport, with 42.7 million passengers in the 12 months to November.