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Any system that lowers the boundaries to distribution and data sharing is good for consumers who are currently overwhelmed by the comparative tools available.
During its Annual Global Meeting in Qatar, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced three new pilot programs to test their New Distribution Capability (NDC) schemas. Participating airlines include Aeroflot, Aer Lingus, Qatar Airways, and JR Technologies (JRT).
IATA launched NDC as a travel industry-supported program for a new, XML-based data transmission standard. IATA claims NDC will resolve “the industry’s distribution limitations.”
“We are delighted to be the first Middle East airline to launch an NDC pilot,” said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker. “We believe that given our position as a leading full service carrier, Qatar Airways will be able to benefit significantly from NDC features as this will enable us to better showcase the value of our five-star product offering to our passengers.”
The foundation document for the NDC Aggregator platform is Resolution 787, tentatively approved by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), intended to:
“Allow airlines to better manage the distribution of their range of products and services that they wish to provide in an effective way, irrespective of the distribution channel,” according to the document of the resolution.
The resolution also indicates that: “This model recognizes that airlines and their customers need more real time dynamic interaction between all parties: airlines, distributors and travel agents so they can offer an intelligent response for all products based on who is asking.”
In its decision to tentatively approve resolution 787, the DOT said:
“The use of common technical standards could facilitate the marketplace development of distribution practices and channels that would make it easier for consumers to compare competing carriers’ fares and ancillary products across multiple distribution channels, make purchasing more convenient, allow carriers to customize service and amenity offers, and increase transparency, efficiency, and competition.”
In July of 2013, technology provider Amadeus expressed concerns about the Resolution indicating:
“We support the objectives of the airline industry in exploring improved ways of offering services through both direct and indirect channels. However, we have serious concerns about a number of key issues including backward compatibility, the compulsory nature of Resolution 787, content ownership and privacy issues.”
However, when the resolution received tentative approval from the DOT this May 21, Amadeus said it welcomed the ruling, stating that the above listed concerns had effectively been resolved.
“We welcome the participation of Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, and Qatar Airways, as well as JR Technologies,” said IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler. “The new pilots will support the development of the NDC standard to modernize the way that airline products are presented through travel agents and help to promote efficiency, and innovation.”
The NDC pilot program was launched in 2013 with American Airlines, Air New Zealand, Hainan Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Swiss International Air Lines. Earlier this year, additional pilots were launched by Shandong Airlines and Air Canada.
Marisa Garcia has worked in aviation since 1994, spending 16 years on the design and manufacturing of cabin interiors and cabin safety equipment. She shares insights gained from this experience on Flight Chic and Tweets as @designerjet.