The Airport Authority has turned to an outsider to lift Chek Lap Kok's flagging retail operations, appointing an Amsterdam airport executive as its new commercial director, according to sources. Hans Bakker recently resigned as a director of Schiphol International, a division of the Schiphol Group which manages Holland's premier airport. He worked for the firm for 24 years. Mr Bakker will take up the Hong Kong post on July 1. Irmgard Mirk, a spokesman for Schiphol International, said Mr Bakker was still working at the airport but only on an ad hoc basis, as he was preparing for his transfer to Hong Kong. Mr Bakker was responsible for Schiphol's commercial operations at airports including New York's JFK terminal four, Brisbane and Rotterdam. Schiphol is regarded as the world leader in airport-retailing trends and a significant influence on Asian terminals. An Airport Authority spokesman could not confirm the appointment until it was formally announced. The newly created post of commercial director will replace the commercial manager's position vacated by Bing Sing Chow when he moved to become general manager of aviation support services. The spokesman said the authority advertised for a senior position as the retail side of operations was a major part of the airport's income. 'We are heavily reliant towards retail [for revenue] and that's the way we would like to go,' he said. One of the two major retailers at the airport welcomed the news, saying Mr Bakker would bring leadership to the commercial operations at Chek Lap Kok. 'We've heard he is very entrepreneurial and innovative, that's what's needed,' said Alessandra Piovesana, managing director of Nuance-Watson Hong kong which operates the airport general merchandise, perfume and cosmetics duty-free concession. 'Schiphol is a reference point for many Asian airports, especially Singapore Changi, which remains a big rival of Schiphol,' she said. Since Mr Chow moved to other duties several months ago, the commercial department had been supportive to retailers, but lacked clear direction, she added. 'We need a leader - someone who's willing to run with it. If we are successful the airport authority is successful too. 'It's urgent we get someone soon, because competition from other regional airports is picking up.' Mrs Piovesana said she would like Mr Bakker to exploit the thousands of unused square feet of space at Chek Lap Kok, which could be turned into more shopping and dining space. Mr Bakker's appointment shows the Airport Authority's determination to increase non-aeronautical revenue and is the latest of several attempts to boost income from retail. Recent efforts have included adding duty-free shops at arrivals. A tender for retailers to bid for space in an innovative 'cyber zone' in the northwest concourse is also underway. This area will feature Internet cafes and high-technology shops and entertainment and a cinema, in an effort to occupy the growing number of transit travellers who make up 27 per cent of the approximately 30.4 million passengers a year.