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NDC (New Distribution Capability) is being implemented or considered across the entire airline industry. Its implementation and continued development requires in kind development by all downstream travel technologies in order to normalize the content at scale. The resulting development timelines may lead to delays in functionality and inconsistencies between the corporate program and consumer sites.

What is NDC?

NDC (New Distribution Capability) is an airline-led initiative launched by IATA (International Air Transport Association) for the development and market adoption of a new, XML-based data transmission standard (NDC Standard). An iteration of APIs, NDC is intended to “modernize” airline retailing capabilities to further enable personalized offers, dynamic pricing, and product differentiation.

There are various versions of NDC Standards which are being adopted and implemented by airlines globally. Downstream technologies are working to incorporate this content as new iterations are implemented.

How NDC Could Impact Your Travel Program

The separation of content between NDC and legacy channels could result in inefficiencies and discrepancies in how airline content can be booked or serviced at scale.

Specific challenges impacting travel programs include:

  • The inability to apply NDC unused tickets to new ticket purchases.
  • Higher direct and indirect program costs.
    • NDC content can only be offered in SAP Concur Travel through a 3rd party integrator or in the new “Evolution of Travel” environment which presents substantial program trade-offs.
    • NDC content could take as much as 4x as long to service than non-NDC content.
  • Process requirements that could result in the inability to include NDC bookings in downstream processes, most notably Duty of Care.
  • Fare discrepancies or the absence of certain fare classes can cause confusion with travelers and may undermine program trust.

NDC Strategy Across Major North American Carriers

American Airlines

American Airlines is currently the most aggressive adopter of NDC in the US market. In April of 2023, they began a shift that can see as much as 40% of their content removed from legacy channels and only offered through NDC, or offered with fare discrepancies between legacy and NDC channels.

  • Basic Economy fares have been shifted to NDC and therefore cannot be extended within programs.
  • Fare discrepancies have been found across all classes of service, however they are most common under the following circumstances:
    • Higher classes of service (particularly international destinations).
    • When booking >14 days before travel.
    • Travel to popular vacation markets.
American Airlines - NDC
Air Canada

Air Canada launched its new NDC strategy on June 14th which creates several distinctions between new NDC content and legacy channel content, including:

  • Basic Economy “Basic” fares have been shifted to NDC and therefore cannot be extended within programs.
  • A small fee will be added by AC to any legacy channel bookings.
  • There may be small variances in availability across AC’s various branded fares between the two channels.
  • Additional amenity and seat offers will be exclusive to NDC channels.
Air Canada - NDC
United Airlines

United Airlines announced that effective September 5th, US domestic and South American Basic Economy fares will no longer be offered through legacy EDIFACT.

  • Basic Economy fares will not be available to extend within travel programs.
  • No other changes are planned at this time.
United Airlines - NDC

The following major/large North American airlines have made no announced changes to content distribution:

  • Delta Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest Airlines
  • WestJet
  • Alaska Airlines

How The Travel Team is Approaching NDC

Though trade-offs do remain, NDC is a central part of the future for travel content distribution and as such, The Travel Team will support it for customers who opt-in on a per-airline basis. Inclusion of NDC content is dependent on a cost-benefit analysis that will yield different results for each customer. In addition to this fact sheet, your Account Manager can answer any questions you may have about NDC content so you can make an informed decision about the inclusion of it in your travel program.

The Travel Team will be continuing its due diligence as key industry stakeholders adopt these new capabilities. With time, NDC content will become a normalized component of all corporate travel programs and The Travel Team will continue to take steps to ensure your program can grow with airline adoption of NDC.

Want to Learn More?

Begin your adventure by filling out the form below or calling 1-877-357-4471 to contact one of our dedicated travel experts.

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