IATA, Open Allies, Agree to Guide DOT NDC Policy

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Open Allies for Airfare Transparency (Open Allies) report they filed a joint motion with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) concerning IATA’s controversial Resolution 787, better known to many as the New Distribution Capability (NDC). 

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The motion offers conditions that IATA and Open Allies recommend be included in what IATA said is hopeful will be a timely approval of Resolution 787. The conditions to which both organizations agreed are intended to add clarity to the letter and spirit of Resolution 787, IATA said.

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Open Allies said it has agreed to withdraw its opposition to Resolution 787 subject to the implementation of these conditions.

Specifically, the conditions clarify IATA’s commitment to the core principles of Resolution 787 regarding anonymous shopping, compatibility of existing data standards with the NDC standard and the voluntary nature of the standard, the association said. They supplement IATA’s June 2013 filing with DOT which sought to further define the original IATA submission.

"We are pleased that we were able to work together with our industry partners to strengthen the principles underlying Resolution 787. These include anonymous shopping, data privacy and a voluntary open data standard available to all current and future travel technology suppliers. We urge DOT to approve Resolution 787 in a timely manner so that consumers may benefit from the greater choice and transparency in air travel shopping that the NDC standard will enable," said Tony Tyler, IATA’s drector general and CEO.

IATA, Open Allies and the industry partners it represents, as well as other stakeholders also agreed to establish an industry forum to support a collaborative approach on distribution issues going forward.

The NDC is an IATA-led initiative to develop an XML-based data transmission standard for communications between airlines and travel agents. The NDC standard, once developed and available, will be open to any third party, intermediary, IT provider or non-IATA member, to to implement and use.

In a statement, Andrew Weinstein, executive director of Open Allies commented: “The conditions address any possible industry confusion over the scope of Resolution 787 by making clear that any DOT action would not constitute approval or endorsement of any method or business model of distributing air transportation.  Other agreed conditions ensure that the adoption of any technical standards ultimately developed as a consequence of Resolution 787 would (i) be entirely voluntary, (ii) not require the disclosure of personal data, (iii) not exclude the use of other standards, and (iv) have no impact on data ownership.  The final condition addresses concerns about the new standards developed as a result of Resolution 787 being compatible with existing standards.  Open Allies has agreed to withdraw its opposition to DOT action concerningResolution 787 subject to incorporation of these conditions in any DOT order." Open Allies, however, noted that it does not endorse NDC.

“We are delighted that we were able to reach agreement on conditions to limit the scope of Resolution 787 and ensure that it addresses only data transmission standard-setting, not a new distribution business model,” said Weinstein. “We believe these conditions will serve all travelers by safeguarding transparency, competition, and consumer choice, while protecting privacy and ensuring that any new standards developed under Resolution 787 are open standards available to all industry participants. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with IATA and other industry stakeholders to develop a collaborative approach to address standard-setting in future.”

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The joint conditions filed by IATA and Open Allies with DOT were:

Scope of Resolution 787

Approval of Resolution 787 does not constitute approval of any agreement among IATA member airlines regarding any method or business model of distributing air transportation, nor restrict the use of any channels available for the distribution of air transportation, including indirect distribution by other than airlines. 

Any future agreement among IATA member airlines regarding business models for the distribution of air transportation shall not be implemented without prior compliance with any applicable government approval or notification process.     

Personal Information

Approval of IATA Resolution 787 does not constitute approval of any agreement among IATA member airlines to require the disclosure by any passenger of personal information of any kind.

Use of Other Data Transmissions Standards

Approval of IATA Resolution 787 does not constitute approval of any agreement among IATA member airlines to require the use of any particular data transmission standard(s).

Data Ownership

This approval does not in any way address the issue of data ownership and specifically does not include approval of Section 1.2.7 of Resolution 787 or of any other reference to ownership in the Resolution.

Backwards Compatibility/Other Standards

Any communications or message standards or protocols developed under Resolution 787 shall be open standards, meaning useable by distributors of air transportation and intermediaries in the distribution of air transportation, including CRSs and other aggregators, on a non-discriminatory basis.   

Approval of Resolution 787 does not constitute approval of any agreement to prohibit individual IATA member airlines or groups of such airlines from continuing to utilize any communication or message protocol, including existing standards.

Nothing in the approval of Resolution 787 shall be deemed to be an approval of either a restriction on backwards compatibility or a restriction on development of a communications or messaging standard that is not backward compatible.  Further, nothing in Resolution 787 shall be construed to inhibit the ability of distributors of air transportation to use other standards, including existing standards, in combination with any standard developed under Resolution 787. Notwithstanding any language in Section 1.2.4 of Resolution 787, airlines and technology service providers are free to pursue backward compatibility of Resolution 787 communications or message standards or protocols based on their particular business needs.

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