Sabre enlists help for NDC adoption

SOUTHLAKE, Texas, 9 August 2018: In a move to upgrade the technology that delivers travel content for retailing and distribution, Sabre Corporation is partnering with travel giants American Airlines, American Express Global Business Travel, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Flight Centre Travel Group.

They are joining forces for initiative called the “Beyond NDC” programme.  The partnership will attempt to clear obstacles and deliver rich content on airline products such as seats and other cabin features to retail outlets selling to travel consumers.

The partners will test their end-to-end capabilities to process and forward NDC-enabled offers to GDS and other distribution channels. 

Sabre plans to recruit more participants for its Beyond NDC programme throughout the remainder of this year.

“By partnering with the world’s largest airline and several of the world’s leading travel management companies, we will bring to market NDC-enabled solutions that integrate with retailing and distribution,” said Sabre president of Travel Solutions Dave Shirk. “Launching this programme with such heavyweights illustrates that we are looking past near-term goals to define the future of intelligent airline retailing at scale in both direct and indirect channels.”

Participants in the Beyond NDC programme collaborate to create end-to-end retailing capabilities.  Travel content from multiple sources has been around for a considerable time, but NDC-based solutions introduce a new level of benefits for travellers.

“We’re committed to partnering with Sabre and other travel industry leaders to bring NDC benefits to our customers,” said American Airlines senior vice president of Global Sales and Distribution Alison Taylor.

“Together we will develop capabilities that deliver an improved and personalized traveller experience.”

Sabre’s position on NDC and the company’s drive to lead an industry evolution, was outlined last May when the company announced its roadmap to offer NDC-enabled solutions by the end of this year.

What is NDC?

NDC (New Distribution Capability) is a travel industry-supported programme launched by IATA to create a new XML-based data transmission standard. The NDC Standard enhances communication capabilities between airlines and travel agents to offer a wider choice of products and services beyond the basic fare.

In simple terms, NDC is a set of technology standards, which will give airlines the ability to distribute all their content through third parties (usually travel agencies both traditional and online).

Airlines are upgrading products, such as lie-flat seats, Wi-Fi on international services and new aircraft, but the current GDS does not support product differentiation.  One business class seat looks like any other, when it’s displayed as codes on a screen. There is an absence of rich content on the GDS screens to help travel agents understand the differences in products they are selling to consumers.

In theory, NDC will provide the technical interface for GDS providers OTAs and travel management companies to display rich content with images and information. It will also allow airlines to sell direct to consumers through independent App developers.