July 25, 2018

Revolution in airline distribution depends hugely on GDS buy-in


IATA’s latest update on its plan to bring in a New Distribution Capability (NDC) says its registry of companies participating now numbers over 100, including 58 airlines. Thus it is gaining essential critical mass.

Basically, what IATA is seeking to do is introduce a standard developed to facilitate communication for travel agents and airlines. Airlines have been offering a wide variety of products and services on their websites to appeal to travellers – early boarding, preferred seating, a day pass for an airline lounge and so on. But travel management companies using the global distribution systems (GDSs) may not be aware of the full range of airline products on offer, and airlines cannot customise the offer based on who is making the request.

The new system is not expected to be fully implemented for another five years or more. By then, if all goes to plan, all airlines will use the same IATA-verified standards, which means that third-parties – GDSs, travel management companies (TMCs), procurement departments, plus new entrants – can access the same content that airlines are selling directly, and redistribute it on the airlines’ behalf.

The industry remains split on whether this will actually result in a better deal for travellers. Those trying to wade through the complexity of all the industry jargon and announcements must hope that they, too, will get a better picture of what is on offer. Commerce platform group Datalex believes that they will, and that it is their enthusiasm for online research and booking that has brought the changes.

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