The travel industry in general and the airline segment in particular, is quite attached to its three-letter codes. Unfortunately though, in many cases these acronyms have little or no meaning to ordinary people, and sometimes even professionals in the trade have real difficulties understanding what they stand for, and even worse, deciphering what they actually mean.
NDC (New Distribution Capability as per IATA Resolution 787) has been a prime example up to now. Most travel industry professionals understand what the three letters stand for, but I think many would also likely concede that they don’t necessarily understand what NDC really means.
The future of IATA NDC, as it looks today, is still uncertain. Also because IATA repeatedly present NDC as something that is different from what is stated in Resolution 787, most recently in a blog posted on October 23rd. While we believe that the IATA blog statement on Wednesday was a very positive development on the part of IATA as well as the engagement with all stakeholders in the NDC Advisory Forum, the airline association needs indeed to formalize these commitments (to withdraw and rewrite Resolution 787) and to change the approach to becoming truly inclusive and collaborative. Without these next steps, the rest of the industry will remain confused about the intentions of IATA and its members, and about the future and consequences of NDC.
In the middle of the confusion created by IATA with NDC, the railway industry represented by CER (Community of European Railways and Infrastructure Companies) emerges as a perhaps unexpected role model for industry collaboration, by embracing a very different approach in the FSM-project – working with the industry associations of travel agents and technology providers in Europe to develop new and open standards for rail distribution in the so-called Full Service Model – thus three-letter FSM – based on the wide range of requirements of stakeholders in the process, whether travel agents and their customers or railway undertakings. Amadeus has been fully supportive of this initiative from the very beginning, and we look forward to a constructive and intense process that may very well deliver new industry standards for rail distribution long before IATA NDC might see the light of day.
We encourage IATA to move in the same manner, and we believe very strongly that IATA should actively pursue the engagement it has initiated with its peer trade associations to establish a new foundation for industry technical standards, ensuring that all stakeholder requirements are taken into consideration. This should be communicated clearly, and be formalized in a way that the rest of the industry can relate to and trust.
In such a scenario, the whole industry would rally around a common challenge, and not only deliver standards in record time, but also ensure adoption of new technical functionalities across the value chain with a speed that the current IATA approach simply is unable to deliver.
This should be a really attractive alternative to the current stalemate, and the WPS would be a great occasion for IATA to commit to a process that gets the whole industry together to work for a common good.