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IATA aims to boost air travel value

International Air Transport Association (IATA) has identified a need for a new XML system so travel agents can compete with airline direct sales for services.

The association said that a customised offering should be available through travel agents as well as websites where agents would be able to purchase flights based on travel history, credit card brand or see which extras they may like to book.

With 60% of air tickets booked through travel agents, IATA believes the current model forces agents to compete on price despite the onboard and airport service developments airlines have made. Travel technology companies have previously encouraged more airlines to upload their ancillary services onto GDS and booking systems.

“Airlines are trying to escape the commoditisation trap through differentiation, and merchandising. They are developing products and services, such as special meals, expedited boarding, roomier seats and access to airport lounges. But the travel agent sees only fare codes—F, J, Y and their various derivatives—which cannot fully describe options available,” said Tony Tyler, director general and CEO at IATA.

“The solution is the New Distribution Capability powered by open XML standards. This will enable innovation in the way airline products are distributed. One key outcome will be closing of the gap between airlines and their customers so that customized offers can be made to travelers even through travel agents,” he added. 

The announcement came as part of Tyler’s address today at the World Passenger Symposium in Abu Dhabi. He added the association is working with stakeholders to improve the airport experience for customers including one-click WiFi and more self-service options.

It is also continuing to work on its ‘Checkpoint of the Future’ (CoF) so passengers can walk through security without stopping to remove items. It has also been urged for airports to have a list of ‘known traveller’ lanes to speed up security, with IATA’s passenger survey showing three quarters of passengers would share information to make the process quicker. Trials are currently taking place with candidate airports to be chosen for tests in 2014. 

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