Carts, horses and readiness for a new airline distribution model

Discussions around airline readiness for IATA’s New Distribution Capability took a different turn recently with one technology exec describing it as the “cart before the horse.”

Farelogix president and chief executive Jim Davidson says only about 10 to 15 airlines in the world actually control their offers which, he maintains, is fundamental to be able to then distribute them.

He was speaking as part of a panel of customer acquisition at last week’s Flight Global/T2RL ‘New Generation of Airline Passenger Systems’ conference in London.

Davidson also says airlines need to have a host of systems, including a pricing engine, merchandising engine and scheduling and availability platform, in place before contemplating what the NDC technology standard might do for them.

The session sparked a lot of debate around airlines being the ‘single source of truth’ for their content with United Airlines director of distribution, payment and ticketing systems, Tye Radcliffe saying that if airlines could get to being that ‘single source of truth’, it would remove some of the confusion for consumers.

He believes existing existing technology has helped create the problem with a mistrust from consumers around airline pricing because they don’t understand what’s happening behind the scenes.

“We have taught consumers that if you look at this channel or that channel you could find a better or different price. It’s not necessarily due to the channel but the technology behind it with fare load times and inventory sources and things of that nature. If we can centralise that, hopefully it can take some of that variability away.”

Interesting to note that United Airlines is working with Farelogix on NDC capabilities for the carrier.

There was also an impression from the panel that developments with NDC and online distribution in general are going to make the landscape more complex.

Advantage Travel Centres corporate director Ken McLeod believes airline websites are already “hugely complicated” with carriers just thinking about their own product but what consumers want is to find what’s best for them.

He also says airlines could potentially be making things more complex with “different variations of NDC.”

“It’s adding complexity for what should be simple and straightforward.”

Recent figures from IATA reveal about 90 airlines plan to be using the technology standard by 2020.

NB: Airline distribution image via Freepik.

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