IATA hits back at distribution opponents

IATA hits back at distribution opponents
By admin

Airlines have given their unanimous backing to the New Distribution Capability (NDC) as aviation’s governing body accused opponents of the initiative of spreading lies over privacy issues and the potential bypassing of travel agents.

Members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) agreed at the body’s annual general meeting that “consumers will benefit from being able to make choices based on enriched content and the ability to compare and transact airline offers in a transparent fashion”.

The NDC will develop an XML-based distribution standard for “data exchange” between airlines and travel agents”.

IATA said consumers already have the ability to see such “rich content” through airline’s own websites but do not enjoy the same experience when booking through a travel agent.

“Consumers want to be able to buy air travel products in the same way that they purchase other goods with full access to product information, the ability to comparison-shop and to see the full value of the offer,” IATA director general and chief executive Tony Tyler said. “And we want our travel agent partners to be able to offer it. NDC will allow this to happen.”

Speaking at the AGM in Cape Town, Tyler acknowledged that the NDC faces opposition. But he accused opponents of scaremongering over certain aspects of the plan.

"Frankly some of our opponents are not telling the truth,” he said. “Let me clear the air with some facts. NDC will not contravene privacy laws. Nothing in the NDC standard requires passengers to supply personal information to receive an offer. But it does provide the opportunity for customers to identify themselves – if they so choose – to have their loyalty recognised by travel agents.”

Tyler insisted that contrary to fears raised by opponents “NDC will not bypass agents”.

“It will enable them to sell all of what airlines have on offer,” he said. “And, NDC will not eliminate comparison shopping. It will give customers better information on which to make a decision.

“NDC will support photographic product descriptions so that people can see what they are buying. And it will enable passengers to compare the base fare as well as the cost of all the options that are available.”

The IATA resolution vowed to “support current shopping methods”, including the ability for consumers to compare base fares without identifying themselves.

It also said airlines and other industry players will be free to adopt or reject the NDC and that IATA “would continue to support the legacy standard while demand for it exists”.

The plan has been submitted to the US Department of Transportation for approval.

XML schemes to support NDC pilots are available to download at www.iata.org with live pilots underway by the end of the year.

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