The future of interline
The IATA Distribution Advisory Council has initiated a work package to explore changes to the interline framework. This will involve explorations into the legal, financial, distribution and operational frameworks that support partnerships within the industry. Standards development activities will be centred around the Interline Group, under the Plan Standards. One of the main activities of this group will be the development of the SRSIA, the Standard Retailer and Supplier Interline Agreement.
More information on some of the discussions that have occurred at industry level on the future of interline is available in the IATA white paper The Future of Interline. (pdf)
The first version of this agreement has been developed by airlines across 2019 and will continue to be reviewed and developed across 2020, for presentation to the Passenger Standards Conference in October 2020. Once adopted, it will be freely available at this site. Until this time, airlines interested in the development of this agreement may wish to participate in the Interline Group.
Retailers and Suppliers
The Standard Retailer and Supplier Interline Agreement seeks to move away from ticketing concepts of validating carrier and participating carrier, and away from scheduling concepts or marketing and operating carrier concepts. The framework introduces the concept of a Retailer and a Supplier. The Retailer initiates a relationship with a customer at the time of the customer making a shopping request, and provides products and services to a customer either directly or by engaging suppliers. These concepts are generic, and better support an open framework where the products and services of many different suppliers can be combined into an offer for a customer.
How is the Standard Retailer and Supplier Interline Agreement (SRSIA) different to the existing Multilateral Interline Traffic Agreement (MITA)?
The Multilateral Interline Traffic Agreement (MITA) framework is a cornerstone of the Interline Framework. The MITA is a standard single interline agreement under which IATA and non-IATA member airlines may concur to create an interline relationship. This agreement establishes a legal framework for interline and describes responsibilities, liability provisions and general procedural obligations.
The SRSIA will exist in parallel to the existing Multilateral Interline Traffic Agreement (MITA). IATA member ailrines may wish to form an interline relationship under the MITA, or under the SRSIA, or under any other bilateral agreement, just as they do today.
The key differences of the SRSIA are:
- The SRSIA supports a more generic "retailer" and "supplier" relationship
- The SRSIA more comprehensively describes business processes supported by Offer and Order Management capabilities (as described by the NDC and ONE Order programs)
- The SRSIA can be used to support a common understanding of interlining between IATA member airlines using IATA standard ticketing processes, and airlines that do not use IATA standard ticketing processes
- The SRSIA introduces more flexibility, acknowledging that while there are some fundamental aspects of every interline relationship, there are also many commercial and procedural aspects that will differ from partner to partner
How will the agreement work?
The SRSIA will be structured around a main agreement (describing fundamental elements of the agreement, and foundation obligations of each party) and then a series of annexes, where parties can select options based on their own business requirements. Having pre-defined options provides a common structure and common set of language. The parties may also add additional Annexes by mutual agreement.
Unlike the existing MITA, execution of the agreement will not require notification to IATA, and parties or concurrences will not be published by IATA. The SRSIA is designed to operate in an environment where Retailers are in control of constructing their Offers, includes integrating content from Suppliers. Because a third party does not construct each Offer or itinerary independently, it is not necessary for concurrences to be published externally.