New Distribution Capability – Boon or bane for travel agents?


The International Air Transport Association recently revealed its ‘New Distribution Capability’ in a bid to work together and create greater value for customers across the travel experience while also enabling greater efficiency for industry participants.

This new system’s benefits when deciphered in detail raises serious questions about what does it mean for travel agents and GDS as a whole. Travel Daily Media spoke to key industry heads to understand their view of the NDC and its offerings to the travel industry.

The NDC has been developed to enable airline product differentiation. These will be open standards that can be used by any party, including GDSs. The intent is to enable product differentiation through all distribution channels, also to include customer identification and recognition. So what does this mean – For passengers, greater transparency of what they are buying; for airlines – ability to differentiate their product offerings, gaining value from investment in product quality; for travel agents – greater access to airline ancillary products, which currently are only available on individual airline websites’.

Lars Thykier, MD of the Danish Travel Agents and Tour Operators Association, representative of ECTAA and newly elected chairman of WTAAA – The World Travel Agents Association Alliance said: “The NDC does not in any way bring about transparency between travel agents and consumers. The new system would in some way do away with comparison sites and the end consumer would find it even more difficult to assess if they are getting the best fare. This will ultimately result in a loss for the consumer. This decision was taken by IATA without the involvement of any travel association or GDS.”

Supporting his view, Ajay Prakash, immediate past president of Travel Agents Federation of India is of the opinion that “The proposed NDC is the latest insidious move at increasing its hegemony at the expense of travel agents and GDS companies, both of whom have been the mainstay of airline inventory distribution. The NDC is really aimed at marginalising both agents and GDSs, to the direct benefit of airlines and to the inevitable detriment of passengers – and there should be loud alarm bells ringing on this,”

One has yet to understand the complete and detailed implications of the NDC. As per industry officials, it is an airline-based initiative that is being implemented. Its ramifications are yet to be accessed. Travel Daily will bring you constant industry views on this issue and the development of NDC.

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