Travel sector sentiments on new airline distribution standards 'seeing positive shift'

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Travel Management Companies (TMCs) and other travel sector businesses are feeling increasingly positive about the airline industry's recent implementation of its New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has been rolling out these new airline distribution standards over the last few years, ushering in a uniform XML-based data transmission approach to enhance the capability of communications between airlines and travel agents.

Initially, this change was met with scepticism by many in the industry, but a recent survey from the Business Travel Show has indicated that these sentiments may be shifting. It was revealed that 35 per cent of buyers now regard NDC as a good thing for the sector, compared to only 11 per cent who said the same thing a year ago.

Meanwhile, the number of buyers who disagree that this has been a positive step has dropped from 34 per cent to 27 per cent in the same period, with ten per cent of buyers specifically saying they have changed their opinion of NDC from negative to positive over the last 12 months.

When asked about the impact of the change, 18 per cent said the new system offers more transparency with pricing, while one in five said prices have increased as a result. Meanwhile, six per cent have switched carriers as a result of NDC - down from ten per cent last year, suggesting that initial disruptions associated with the changeover are settling down.

Meanwhile, 29 per cent of buyers said they have felt no impact at all, noting that their TMCs are doing a better job of keeping them up to date.

Ian Luck, head of distribution at British Airways and a panellist at the Business Travel Show, said: "We have had significant engagement from buyers, TMCs, travel agents, corporate booking tools and technology providers over the last 12 months that is enabling us to ensure that the NDC capability we are building both addresses their concerns and looks at areas of common opportunity."

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