The Department of Transportation (DOT) has “tentatively” approved Resolution 787 – the foundation document for the New Distribution Capability (NDC).
The proposal would require airlines and ticket agents to disclose at all points of sale the fees for certain basic ancillary services, and ensure that online flight search agencies adhere to DOT consumer protection requirements.
The provisional approval includes a number of safeguards that ensures: no traveller is required to provide personal information to receive a fare offer, that the standard remains voluntary and each airline is free to choose its own data exchange methodologies.
NDC is a set of technology standards which will give airlines the ability to distribute all their content through third parties. Under NDC, all airlines would use the same IATA-verified standards, which mean third parties – GDSs, TMCs, procurement departments, plus new entrants – can access the same content that airlines are selling directly, and redistribute them on the airlines’ behalf.
IATA hopes the controversial project will create an “Amazon-style” personalised shopping experience. However some TMCs and the major GDS companies have previously expressed concerns about the implications for transparent fare comparison and data privacy.
The DOT said the development of NDC “would make it easier for consumers to compare competing carriers’ fares and ancillary products across multiple distribution channels”.
However, it insisted: “Consumers’ ability to shop anonymously must not be undermined. Our tentative approval should not be construed as approval for individual airlines to require disclosure of personal data.
“An airline may request data but such information cannot be mandatory in order to receive an airfare or ancillary product offer.”
IATA’s CEO Tony Tyler welcomed the decision: “This is excellent news for air travellers, airlines, intermediaries, and for competition,” he said.
The GBTA said it “respects” the decision made by the DOT but the “use of standard in airline business models” is a concern.
It added: “While GBTA further analyses the DOT ruling and decides on further actions, we will be developing a voluntary code of conduct to the airline community to continue to work toward a cooperative industry solution”.
DOT said any objections to the ruling must be filed by June 11.