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Travel industry groups propose collaborative development of distribution standards, invite IATA to join

Leading travel industry groups are proposing a new collaborative model for the development of neutral and open data standards to enable enhanced distribution of airline products through any channel. The goal of the initiative is to bring the entire airline and travel industry together to develop technical standards. They will facilitate airlines to make custom offers to travellers while fully preserving robust comparison shopping across multiple carriers and protecting consumers’ data privacy.

The European Federation of Travel Agents’ Associations (ECTAA) and the European Technology & Travel Services Association (ETTSA) are the European driving forces behind the new initiative.

Some of their U.S. peers, including the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), the Business Travel Coalition (BTC), the Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA), and the Travel Technology Association (Travel Tech), have issued a separate statement supporting the move.

The groups extend an open invitation to IATA and other interested and relevant travel industry stakeholders, to join the multilateral initiative in a truly collaborative manner.

They believe the initiative could effectively end the animosity caused by IATA’s unilaterally proposed New Distribution Capability (NDC), which has received harsh criticism from many parts of the travel industry and from regulators.

“We need to join forces as a travel value chain and, together with IATA and the carriers, develop a neutral data standard that works for everyone, that enables airlines to effectively distribute rich content and that retains transparency and comparison-shopping for consumers and travel buyers,” said Boris Zgomba, President of ECTAA.

“While IATA claims NDC is such a data standard and nothing more, in reality it appears to involve a group of airlines attempting to collectively impose on buyers, consumers and travel agents a business model. That model seems to be founded on the use of opaque fares and ancillaries to make real comparison shopping difficult, if not impossible,” said Christoph Klenner, Secretary General of ETTSA.

“Also, IATA has failed to include its peers in the design and development of NDC, despite having promised such involvement for at least the last eighteen months,” Klenner added. “For a data standard to be effective, it needs to be developed by all affected parties. It needs to be business model-agnostic. That’s what this new initiative intends to achieve.”

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