IATA Defends New Distribution Capability

airlineThe International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports it  filed an application with the Department of Transportation (DOT) for approval of its controversial Passenger Services Conference Resolution 787. The resolution is the foundation standard for the New Distribution Capability (NDC).

IATA's NDC has been opposed by consumer and travel industry groups such as the Business Travel Coalition (BTC).

NDC is an IATA-led collaborative industry initiative to define an Extensible Markup Language (XML) messaging standard that will enable retailing opportunities through the indirect channel (Global Distribution System (GDS) and travel agents). Resolution 787 was adopted by the Passenger Services Conference in October 2012, IATA said.

“Today’s air travel consumers who visit a travel agency or an online travel site don’t have easy access to all of the options to add value to their travel plans. This is because the indirect sales channel remains largely dependent on pre-Internet messaging standards. This provides agents with the basic information—fare and travel class. But agents have been unable to easily see important product characteristics such as the availability of Wi-Fi or seat features."

IATA said that under the “Provisions for Conduct of IATA Traffic Conferences”, IATA is required to file any and all resolutions and agreements coming out of its various conferences with the US Dept. of Transportation. "While IATA believes it already held the authority to proceed with the development of this standard under an already approved Resolution, IATA decided in the interest of transparency to file Resolution 787, which will also give interested parties the right to comment."

 IATA said  it is difficult to distinguish pricing alternatives like fares with fewer restrictions on travel changes. "Consumers can already find all of this on airline websites. NDC will make the same choices—and future innovations—available wherever consumers choose to buy their travel products,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

On airline websites consumers can view complete offers including ancillary products such as expedited boarding, onboard Wi-Fi, customized dining options, luggage pick-up and delivery services, and lounge access, IATA said. 

"Moreover on their own websites airlines are able to tailor those offers to meet the customer’s particular needs; and travelers can compare fare options for greater flexibility, and also personalize their plans by choosing the options most valuable to them for a particular journey. This is similar to the experience customers have when accessing any leading retail website. And the airline websites are XML-ready, meaning that multiple airline offers can easily be aggregated and compared once a standard is in place, " IATA said.

“NDC will enable travel agents and travelers to comparison shop knowing that they have access to the full value of an airline’s complete product offer, not just the base fare. Furthermore, airlines and agents will be able to present customized offers to those customers that desire to be recognized. This happens on airline websites already. But I also want to be very clear. NDC will not require passengers to transmit any more information than they do today on airline websites or third party travel sites in order to get an offer,” said Tyler.

Creating an open XML standard will also encourage new entry and innovation among providers of airline distribution solutions, IATA said. “Historically, competition results in better service and lower prices. That’s good for travelers as well as for the industry,” said Tyler.

Visit www.IATA.org