The Airport Authority is to focus on improving customer services this year after the launch of facilities that aim to make Chek Lap Kok more traveller-friendly. The authority yesterday launched a new customer service centre and facilities for faster immigration handling of mainland tour groups. It also pledged to urge airport staff to smile more. The authority's commercial director, Hans Bakker, said 'too many airports' treat passengers like so much 'living cargo'. As travellers - especially mainland tourists, who are becoming increasingly important to Hong Kong - become more affluent, they will become more selective with their holiday destinations, meaning less-friendly airports will lose out. A survey by the authority found a 50 per cent increase in the ratio of leisure travellers from the mainland versus the traditional business traveller, based on a year-on-year comparison in October. It also found that the average income of mainland visitors had risen from HK$26,000 per month to nearly HK$36,000 in the same period. Mr Bakker said Chek Lap Kok would continue to study and implement programmes to create a more customer-friendly environment. Meanwhile, Mr Bakker confirmed that the authority had sent out tender documents for the proposed new express cargo centre to the four express cargo operators last month. However, the authority had yet to hear back from the four companies - Federal Express, United Parcel Service, TNT and DHL Worldwide Express. 'They are now studying the documents and have not returned to us with any questions yet,' he said. The express operators are probably awaiting completion of a new air services agreement between the United States and Hong Kong before making a decision on how to structure their proposals for the new facility. A new deal is almost certain to greatly expand the rights that US air cargo carriers have in operating out of Chek Lap Kok.