BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: The New Distribution Capability (NDC) programme of IATA to make customers’ air ticket buying decision process easier and faster, is expected to be launched early next year across the world, including Qatar.
The initiative by International Air Transport Association (IATA) aims at revolutionising air travel industry through an XML-based data transmission standard for communications between airlines and travel agents to provide consolidated information in a simplified manner.
The Montreal-based IATA represents 240 airlines or about 84 percent of global air traffic.
Since about 60 percent of airline tickets are sold by travel agents, including online travel agencies, the new system, according to analysts, will pose serious threat to the survival of non-IATA travel operators. They will have to implement it to remain competitive or quit.
“This is a standard we are offering to the market which is ultimately going to make things better for customers. People will either adopt that value or go out of business. It is a need of the people that we have to offer,” Antony Tyler, Director-General and CEO, IATA, told this daily in a recent interview.
“We hope customers will be able to see benefits of NDC from next year, but it depends on how pilots and trials move forward. Implementation will be progressive over the next five years.”
Tyler, who was here for the preparation of the 70th AGM of IATA in June, said: “It has always been there that any innovative technology is good for some and bad for other… People who don’t do what customers want will find life very difficult. That is business.
“With NDC, customers will no longer be required to open many windows or browser and try to remember what all different offers are from different airlines in terms of fare, volume of luggage permitted, types of meal, fee for entering lounge and so on. All benefits offered by airlines will be consolidated in an easy to read format to help customers decide an appropriate package.”
The controversial programme, approved by the IATA Passenger Services Conference in October, 2012, has garnered praise and criticism from nearly every business in the travel distribution industry.
According to reports, a US-based advocacy organisation raised concerns, saying implementation of NDC may require “unacceptable privacy compromises” related to customers’ personal information and additional financial burden on distributors and consumers.
Tyler said: “Some people were saying that 12 months ago, but they are not saying that anymore as people have learned more about the programme. We have done a better job in explaining it.
“We have now reached agreements with many open allies and umbrella organisations, including BTC, and people are happier about that.
“No third party is going to be forced to be a partner for using NDC. It will only happen if it makes business sense for the value chain. They may be required to invest in new technology, but that is happing in every business all the time to improve efficiency.”