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Fact Sheet: New Distribution Capability

The New Distribution Capability (NDC) is an IATA-led, industry-supported initiative to develop an XML-based data transmission standard for communications between airlines and travel agents. The NDC standard is open to all IATA members, any third party, intermediary, IT provider or non-IATA member, to implement and use. Approximately 60% of airline ticket sales by value are sold by travel agents (including travel management companies and online travel agencies (OTAs). The pre-Internet messaging standard (EDIFACT) used to deliver airline fare and schedule data to these partners cannot easily accommodate the way in which many airlines want to market and sell their products today. XML makes it easier, faster and cheaper to provide the customer more information about fare alternatives, ancillary services, onboard amenities and graphics such as pictures or seat maps. 

Global Distribution Systems (GDS) companies are working towards making it possible for airlines to better merchandize their products via travel agents. But each is working on its own proprietary solution—at its own pace and with its own priorities.

A common, open XML-based standard will enable travel agents and consumers easy and transparent access to the same products, services and product information that currently are accessible on airline websites.

IATA has created a video that envisions what the air travel shopping experience could be like in an NDC-enabled environment.

Benefits 

Customers

  • Increased transparency of what they are buying regardless of where they do their travel shopping  
  • Greater access to airlines’ product and services when using a travel agent 
  • Ability to compare airline offerings across many dimensions – not just price 
  • Recognition by airlines and personalized product offers

Airlines 

  • Capability to sell all products through all channels 
  • Leverage the investments made for their direct channel and develop retail capabilities for all channels
  • Greater ability to recognize and reward customers and provide personalized offers

Travel Agents 

  • Broader access to airline products with a one stop access to ancillaries and other airline services
  • Better service for clients by comparing complex product offers
  • More productivity when dealing with complex offers
  • Significant reduction in Agency Debit Memos (ADMs)

Aggregators (including global distribution systems)

  • Improved capability for displaying a wider range of products and services
  • Stimulate innovation and offer more choice to consumers, open new business opportunities

Status

Resolution 787, the foundation Resolution supporting NDC was formally approved by the IATA Passenger Services Conference (PSC) in October, 2012. In March 2013, IATA filed an application for approval of Resolution 787 to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). In June 2013, at the 69th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Cape Town, South Africa IATA members reaffirmed their support for NDC via an AGM Resolution that was unanimously approved.

  • The AGM Resolution affirmed that NDC will support current shopping methods, including the ability for consumers to compare base fares and without identifying themselves (“anonymous shopping”).
  • The AGM Resolution also noted that consumers will be protected by data privacy protection laws and regulations regardless of how and where they choose to purchase air travel. Additionally, IATA members confirmed that airlines and other industry players will be free to decide whether or not to adopt NDC to support some or all of their distribution needs, and that IATA would continue to support the existing legacy standard while demand for it exists.
  • In September 2013, another important technical milestone was achieved. The business requirement document for NDC Shopping and the associated XML schemas were presented to a technical industry group for review. This is another step towards defining and deploying an industry standard for enhanced airline distribution.
  • In parallel to the NDC business requirement and schema activities, an NDC pilot program was launched in February 2013 and has several pilots in the deployment phase with more in the pipeline. It is expected that this phase will continue through 2014.
  • Subject to approval of Resolution 787 by the United States Department of Transportation, the initiative should move into a deployment phase in 2015, in which a number of airlines will have adopted the initial version of NDC.
  • A global roll-out is expected to begin in 2016.

Updated: December 2013

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