The battle between the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and American Airlines continued this week as ASTA hit back at American’s latest response to the DOT.
In a message this week, ASTA accused American of “intentionally misrepresenting” its position on NDC. ASTA said that American’s ultimate goal is to “do away with intermediated comparative shopping,” something that is in their “financial self-interest.”
The response came two weeks after American said ASTAS was attempting to “slow the pace of innovation” with its pushback against American’s move to NDC.”
In this week’s response, ASTA recognized that innovation in the merchandizing of air tickets is coming and that travel advisors and agency owners have little choice but to go along with that change. However, American representing the move as consumer or advisor-friendly is wrong.
“Claiming that consumers asked for NDC is like Apple claiming consumers asked that no wall charger be included with new iPhones. We may have to live with it, but we certainly didn’t ask for it,” ASTA said.
“ASTA believes in letting the customer have a choice in how they shop. Our shared customers want the ability to compare carriers, and flight options, on value, price, and schedule.”
ASTA’s pushback since American’s move earlier this year had been that America was forcing the trade to adopt NDC when it was unprepared for it. It’s not about whether or not NDC is superior to EDIFACT, it is about an unfair timeline. The future does lie with NDC, but agencies and TMCs that don’t have the resources to convert instantly are being left behind.
“It’s about readiness and AA’s egregious conduct in removing 40 percent of its fare inventory, possible only given its dominant market position, in order to place TMCs and other distribution intermediaries at a massive competitive disadvantage,” ASTA added.
“AA has been working on their solution for 10 years and offered less than 12 months for TMCs to catch up. The GDS will affirm they have been developing in parallel to AA as it released updates to its API. While the functionality continues to improve, we are all a long way from complete.”
American removing fares from EDIFACT, or publishing lower fares, sometimes by 50%, in NDC channels, was a way to “gouge customers who prefer to book through the agency channel.”
Ultimately, ASTA says the matter will “be decided by the DOT.”