Mr Clarke, who has more than 25 years’ experience in the retail industry, said he wanted to make the airport a world-class hub and appeal to a far greater number of both leisure and business passengers.
The businessman said the ambition shown by the airport’s owners, AMP Capital, and its current management team had drawn him to help lead another large Yorkshire business.
Mr Clarke said that the plans to expand and improve the terminal building, along with the drive to deliver new rail and road links, were key.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “There is a lot of support for wanting to move this organisation forward.
“The rail link is making great progress. AMP Capital has got experience in infrastructure from other investments, whether it is airports rail, and it is an international business.
“Not only are they very supportive of this business but we can learn a lot from some of their other investments.”
Mr Clarke said his experience at the helm of Asda was one he wanted to draw on to help improve the customer experience at the airport.
“This is a different scale of business than to the one I was leading before but the challenges and opportunities are still the same,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter whether it is a £100m business or a £25bn business. You are still about people, products and delivering a great result.”
Mr Clarke will join the management team led by chief executive David Laws. The airport recently began a service to Munich and has aspirations of developing more business routes.
“This is an iconic location,” he said
“We know there have been some challenges in the past. Yorkshire deserves a first-class, world-class airport.
“What you are going to see now is a business which, through support and investment, is going to make the right decisions.
“I would like to support the board and rest of the team to moving that customer experience forward so that they say, ‘I am going to fly here rather than go to Manchester’.
“The fact that the Munich route has started so well shows there is a latent demand for those business routes.”