16 October, etc.venues Monument
30 October, JW Marriott Grosvenor House
1st November 2023, etc.venues County Hall
A European Commission watchdog wants to examine the impact of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) project to change how airlines distribute flights.
IATA is currently working on the development of NDC which aims to produce a personalised “Amazon-style” shopping experience when customers search for airfares.
But the EC’s Data Protection Working Party, known as WP29 after the commission’s Article 29 directive on data protection and privacy, has written to IATA to express fears that NDC could raise “a number of privacy and human rights concerns”.
IATA has had to apply to both the EC and the Department of Transportation in the US to get permission to implement NDC.
Working party chairman Jacob Kohnstamm said in a letter to IATA: “This project principally means that potential customers’ personal data (including nationality, age, marital status, travel history, shopping history, previously purchased services, frequent flyer participation and whether the trip is intended for business or leisure), will be collected and processed to offer the potential customer a personalised price from the airlines.
“In light of all these elements, WP29 considers that the NDC project raises a number of privacy and human rights concerns, in particular those related to the profiling of individuals. Therefore, data protection authorities have to look at all potential impacts of this system.”
Kohnstamm added that it now wanted IATA to provide the working party with more information about NDC so that it could make an “initial assessment” of the project.
He also said that IATA would have to consult data protection authorities within individual EU countries before starting any pilot NDC schemes in those markets.
Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the US-based Business Travel Coalition, said he applauded the move by the EC working party to look into NDC more closely.
“The potential negative effects of NDC of less robust airline and distribution channel competition and higher fares are only overshadowed by consumer privacy concerns voiced by travel industry participants and consumers from six continents,” said Mitchell.
“Privacy groups, like all other stakeholders, were locked out of the IATA process to develop its new worldwide business model to price and distribute airline tickets.”
BTC, which has been vehemently opposed to NDC over the last few months, sent a letter to US transport secretary Ray LaHood last week opposing IATA’s plans. This letter was signed by 214 travel managers, TMCs and travel industry groups including the Scottish Passenger Agents Association and American Society of Travel Agents.