IATA Distribution Standard Expected In October

The International Air Transport Association apparently is taking a consultative approach to its New Distribution Capability project, which is aimed at finding a more sophisticated form of distribution than is offered today through GDSs. IATA director general Tony Tyler told the association's annual global conference in Beijing this week that a foundation standard for NDC will be proposed for approval in October at IATA's World Passenger Symposium and completed "this year."

Tyler said he is "confident that the GDSs will join as partners because progress cannot wait. I am also confident that the new platform will unleash innovation and new entrants that will revolutionize airline relationships with their customers. It will also impact IATA. In parallel with developing the foundation standard, we are evaluating what other innovations IATA can offer to ensure that we are delivering the greatest value in this area."

Christoph Klenner, secretary general of the European Technology & Travel Services Association, whose members include the three leading GDS operators, welcomed the comparatively conciliatory words from Tyler and agreed that cooperation between GDSs and IATA "probably" would lead to better distribution than is available today.

"We have been reaching out to IATA over the past couple of months to have dialogue," Klenner said. "IATA has acknowledged our requests and says it is interested in talking. I am pleased with the comments from Tony Tyler. Unlike previous occasions, he was not GDS-bashing. The change to Tony Tyler [who replaced Giovanni Bisignani in July 2011] has been much more constructive. If we are going to get to Distribution 3.0, we need to do that together."