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Gatwick better under new owner, says ex-BAA chief

A former top executive at BAA has conceded that the Competition Commission's decision to break-up the airport operator's South-east of England monopoly has already proven successful.

Heathrow owner BAA has long fought the Commission's rulings that it must sell three of its airports, but did offload Gatwick to Global Infrastructure Partners in 2009. It has since admitted defeat in Scotland, where it is selling Edinburgh, but is still looking to overturn the decision on Stansted.

Paul Griffiths, who was managing director at Gatwick before taking over Dubai International Airport, told The Independent: "Is Gatwick a better airport now? The evidence is there. It has positioned itself as a genuine competitor to Heathrow."

The UK's second biggest airport after Heathrow, Gatwick has seen security complaints fall by half and check-in times slashed since it changed hands.

Mr Griffiths is working on a plan that will see Dubai overhaul Heathrow as the world's busiest airport by 2016, with 90 million passengers by the end of the decade. Heathrow had 68 million last year, but there is little room for expansion as terminals are running at near-capacity and the construction of a third runway, for now, has been blocked by the Government.