Skift Take

Sure enough, more travel companies are starting to inch toward direct booking. Southwest has always been a leader in this area among the big U.S. carriers, and this move will help it do more business with corporate travelers.

Southwest Airlines is the latest carrier to join NDC Exchange, a new distribution capability platform, to increase its reach to business travelers.

NDC is gaining momentum among some carriers shifting away from traditional distribution channels.

The platform was created by the Airline Tariff Publishing Company and SITA, an airline IT provider, and it enables a direct connection between airlines and sellers through the use of new distribution technology. Southwest is yet another airline to join the platform, after Delta, United, British Airways, Finnair, LATAM, and Air Canada.

The carrier plans to take its first bookings on NDC Exchange by the end of the summer.

“Now that Southwest Airlines has partnered with the [Airline Tariff Publishing Company] and SITA, the Dallas-based airline has a simple way to connect and expand its offers to multiple distribution points that are already connected to NDC Exchange,” stated an American Tariff Publishing press release Wednesday. “Southwest will continue to maintain complete control over which sellers have access to its content as their primary focus for this distribution channel is the corporate travel space.”

New Distribution Capability has received a lot of attention over the past couple years, in part, because it promises to improve the booking experience for corporate travelers. Direct channels are quicker, more efficient, and often give travelers access to more content including lower prices and bundle deals, proponents of the technology say.

This announcement comes less than a day after the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) and global distribution supplier Sabre Corporation signed an agreement to ease the way for travel agencies to shift to new distribution channels, pointing to a larger transition within the overall industry.

“As airline distribution advances and adoption of new capabilities accelerates, ARC wants to ensure our agency customers are ready to take advantage of the new and exciting ways to sell travel,” said Mike Premo, ARC’s president and CEO.

The agreement is a modernization of a 30-year contract between the two companies, now allowing for more flexibility. It allows travel agencies to manage bookings regardless of an airline’s chosen distribution model, which includes New Distribution Capability.

New Distribution Capability is still in its early stages, and total adoption of the technology is still a long way off, especially in the U.S. Still, the recent announcements indicate slow but steady progress toward IATA’s standards for new distribution technology.


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Tags: arc, new distribution capability, sabre, southwest airlines

Photo credit: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-76N at McCarran International Airport. Tomas Del Coro / Flickr

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