David Higgins will become chairman of Gatwick Airport from January 1st, replacing Roy McNulty, who will remain on the board as deputy chairman.
Higgins is chairman of HS2 and a board member of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
McNulty said: “I am delighted David has accepted the appointment as the new chairman of Gatwick.
“We worked closely together for over five years at the Olympic Delivery Authority.
“He combines a first class intellect with the ability to give clear strategic direction and make things happen.
“He is exactly the right person to lead Gatwick through the next chapter in its development.
Higgins was chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority from 2005-2011 and chief executive of Network Rail from 2011-2014.
“Gatwick has made significant progress under new ownership over the last seven years since the break-up of BAA,” added McNulty.
“We have shown beyond doubt that competition works.
“This has meant more choice, lower fares and improved service for passengers.
“We have also taken significant steps to ensure we listen more to our local communities and do everything we can for the local and national economy.
“The Arrivals Review and establishment of the Gatwick Growth Board are both evidence of this approach.
“Gatwick operates the world’s busiest single runway.
“We now fly to over 50 long haul destinations and I am proud that Gatwick can now rightly claim to have entered the global airport premier league.”
Gatwick has invested over £1.5 billion in new facilities and passenger numbers have grown year on year – from 31.3 million in 2010 to over 42 million in 2016.
Higgins added: “I look forward to working closely with Stewart Wingate and the senior executive team.
“Their impressive track record to date provides a strong foundation for the future.
“Uniquely, Gatwick caters for all airline types and I am keen to meet as many of the airlines as possible early in the New Year to hear how best we can continue to work together for the benefit of passengers.”