Airlines gear up to deploy IATA's 'New Distribution Capability'
December 17 2015 08:46 PM
Yanik Hoyles
Yanik Hoyles

By Pratap John/Chief Business Reporter

Geneva

Some 10 airlines, including Qatar Airways, will have deployed on a small scale some of the components of the New Distribution Capability (NDC) by December, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“NDC is about giving travel agents the same capability as airline websites,” said Yanik Hoyles, director, IATA NDC Programme at a recent media event in Geneva.

Currently, he said, travel agents have “very limited access to rich airline content; product features are not available at hand.”

Options that are sold on airline websites are rarely available through the travel agent channel and new airline products such as preferred seating, lounge passes take a long time and a cumbersome process to be marketed through the travel agent channel.

The NDC Standard will enhance the capability of communications between airlines and travel agents.

The NDC Standard will be open to any third party, intermediary, IT provider or non-IATA member, to implement and use.

Consumers have the ability to view rich content when they visit many airline websites, including bundled and no frills fare offers and personalisation, as well as the ability to see graphic depictions of products and services available for sale.

In most cases, however, travel agents do not have access to the same information and services through their systems because their systems utilise pre-internet messaging standards.

To close this merchandising gap, IATA is leading a collaborative industry initiative to define a new XML-based NDC messaging standard.

This will provide consumers with the same shopping experience regardless of how and where they do their travel shopping.

In effect, he said NDC would modernise the 40-year-old data exchange standards for ticket distribution developed before the Internet was invented.

“The primary driver for NDC is the revenue opportunity. NDC will unlock value through the travel agent channel by providing it with features and content it cannot or is difficult to access today,” Hoyles said.

Besides Qatar Airways, some other major airlines are also heavily investing in NDC, he said. These include American Airlines, British Airways and Air China.

Some 20 other airlines have informed IATA “they have plans to go live” in the next two years. These include Swiss, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Qantas, Finn Air, Aer Lingus and Iberia.

IATA member airlines have already reaffirmed their support for NDC, unanimously endorsing an AGM Resolution.

The resolution unequivocally confirms that NDC will support current shopping methods, including the ability for consumers to compare base fares and to do so without identifying themselves (anonymous shopping).

It also states that consumers will be protected by local data privacy protection laws and regulations regardless of how and where they choose to purchase air travel.

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