Earlier this month, we had the chance to attend IATA’s Word Passenger Symposium in Dubai. As now usual since it was launched three years ago, an entire track was dedicated their New Distribution Capability (NDC) program. One more reason for us to be there and hear where the industry stands in terms of adoption.
THE QUESTION ABOUT NDC IS NO LONGER ABOUT ‘IF’, BUT ‘WHEN’
The first good news is that airline distribution is finally transitioning towards an API-based ecosystem, something we had been advocating for a couple of years already. Finnair’s announcement of their NDC API project with Amadeus, other airlines’ statements with regards to their own investment in this area, and our own conversations with several airlines all confirmed that trend.
With Amadeus (Altéa) now building APIs on behalf of its hosted airlines, we can expect a large number of airlines ready to deploy their NDC-capable APIs earlier than later, and start distributing their product through new digital channels like flyiin.
OUR CONCEPT OF MARKETPLACE IS NOW RECOGNISED AND VALUED.
We were also delighted to hear more and more references to the concept of ‘marketplace’, as a concept that OTAs and metasearch engines shall embrace in order to deliver more value to airlines and to travellers. That further proves the relevance of our vision, i.e. that established players no longer respond to the needs of the two communities and will be replaced by an airline-driven, user-centric marketplace, which we are currently building.
Speaking of which, we were able to present a proof-of-concept of our marketplace product to quite a few airlines, all of whom really loved it. They were particularly pleased to see how our marketplace is able to source flights and ancillary services directly from airlines and make them easily comparable for travellers, while reinforcing the uniqueness and richness of their individual products.
THE TOPIC OF BUSINESS MODEL HAS YET TO BE ADDRESSED.
As part of the distribution track, a panel was specifically dedicated to discussing some of the existing barriers to the deployment of NDC APIs by airlines. Interestingly, although recognised as an issue, not much was said about possible alternative business models for airline distribution.
To us, it is clear that the business model shall be revised in order to reflect the enhanced capabilities of these APIs. In our views, a new business model will emerge between airlines and their preferred 3rd party sales channels, where those will be rewarded based on the ability to generate higher yield sales rather bookings only.
I guess that’s another reason why more and more airlines are following flyiin closely, as we will soon be able to provide them with a long-expected opportunity to discuss and define a more balanced, yield-driven business model for airline distribution.