IATA Urges Approval of NDC – ‘With Conditions’

by Michèle McDonald
IATA Urges Approval of NDC – ‘With Conditions’

IATA urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to approve its Resolution 787, which lays the foundation for the New Distribution Capability, “with conditions” – specifically, five key points presented in a new resolution passed at its annual general meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.

The new resolution addressed the major objections to NDC.

DOT acceptance of the proposal could go a long way toward satisfying many critics of the New Distribution Capability, or NDC.

Cape Town resolution
The Cape Town resolution says NDC’s standards should support current shopping methods, including anonymous shopping by customers, while adding capabilities such as a shopping basket, personalization and flexibility for the future.

The new resolution also says that airlines “will continue to remain subject to relevant passenger privacy protection laws, and airlines and other industry players would be free to decide whether to adopt the enhanced standards to support some or all of their distribution needs.”

The resolution encourages the active participation of the entire distribution chain in the development and adoption of the enhanced standards. In addition, it affirms IATA’s continued support of existing standards for A4A/IATA Reservations Interline Message Procedures and the Passenger Airport Data Interchange Standards.

Although the Cape Town resolution is not binding in the same sense as Resolution 787, which laid the foundation for NDC, DOT approval “with conditions” would essentially codify it as a sort of bill of rights to the Resolution 787 constitution.

Data privacy issues in Europe
Meanwhile, IATA responded to a letter from a watchdog group in Europe on matters of data privacy.

The letter from the Article 29 Working Party (WP29), which advises the European Commission, warned IATA that NDC “raises a number of privacy and human rights concerns, in particular those related to the profiling of individuals.”

Monique de Smet, IATA’s director of government and industry affairs for Europe, responded that there are “two key privacy issues” related to the development of the NDC data exchange standard:

1.    Preserving the consumer’s choice not to provide any more personal information during the shopping process than they do today

2.    Ensuring that nothing in the standard data format will hinder the subsequent design of software using the standard from fully complying with privacy regulations.

Anonymous shopping
De Smet told the European watchdog group that  IATA “has designed the data standard so that customers will still be able to compare base fares and ancillary services without identifying themselves (‘anonymous shopping’) if they choose.”

She noted that anonymous shoppers may lose the opportunity to see “any special discount or free amenity to which he or she might be entitled based on their identity,” such as a base fare that includes one free checked bag, advance seat assignment and priority boarding for a frequent flyer.

Software development
She also said that “IATA is only developing a standardized way for industry software developers to structure data that might be used during the shopping and booking process. It is not writing the software that will be used by the travel agent based on the new data standard.”

Privacy regulation compliance would be addressed primarily during the development of software based on the standardized NDC data format, she said.

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