By all means spell out safeguards, says IATA as it urges US DoT to approve NDC

Issues & Trends – June 2013

By all means spell out safeguards, says IATA as it urges US DoT to approve NDC

SERIOUS limitations on the marketing and sale of air transportation through GDSs have created the need for IATA’s controversial New Distribution Capability (NDC), according to the global airline body.

It claims there is a “chasm” between “the increasingly rich and dynamic information” on airline websites and “the relatively static and incomplete information” provided by GDSs.

The claim comes in a 44-page document submitted by IATA to the US Department of Transportation.
The submission replies to more than 400 comments made on IATA’s application for US DoT approval of the NDC filed in March.

Comments opposing approval came from a range of respondents including 17 travel agent and tour operator associations from around the world.

Outright opposition or serious doubts were also expressed by two GDSs and more than a dozen online travel agents (OTAs).

Approximately 300 individuals and anonymous parties filed online comments opposing approval.
Opponents claimed the NDC would diminish price transparency, result in unfair price discrimination and exacerbate threats to individual privacy.

IATA’s reply rejects these arguments but IATA director general and chief executive Tony Tyler concedes: “There is a need for greater clarity about the purpose of the NDC standard, which is to make it easier for travellers to make an informed decision on price, amenities and services, regardless of where they choose to buy their tickets.”

IATA’s submission to the DoT contends that the NDC will provide more choice and transparency for consumers and spark competition and innovation in the industry.

Urging the US DoT to approve its Resolution 787 (the NDC proposal) IATA has suggested to the regulatory body that it make the following principles clear in its approval:

  • Resolution 787 does not require disclosure by any passenger of personal information of any kind;
  • Resolution 787 does not mandate that airlines or intermediaries distribute products and services via the new XML data transmission standard;
  • Resolution 787 does not restrict the use of any other data transmission standard, including the existing EDIFACT standard; and
  • Resolution 787 does not establish a particular business model for the marketing or sale of air transportation.

“These principles are in the letter and spirit of Resolution 787 and IATA members reaffirmed them at the 69th IATA Annual General Meeting held in Cape Town, South Africa at the beginning of June,” said Tyler.

“It is certainly appropriate that they be included in this proceeding as well. NDC is about bringing more transparency and competition to the air travel market.

“Consumers will have the option to choose products and services that add value to their trip. And they will enjoy the same data privacy protection they have today when they visit an airline website or travel agent.”

• IATA has launched a New Distribution Capability (NDC) blog to carry program updates, commentary and “thought leadership” posts on the NDC.

IATA’s announcement of the blog acknowledges that “a vigorous public debate” has erupted on how the NDC will impact the travel value chain.

“This includes considerable misinformation from some entrenched interests in current distribution standards,” IATA claimed.

“NDC has energized the travel value chain. The NDC blog … will be a reference point to correct the numerous myths and misinformation that have been introduced into the debate.”


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