In a recent blog article, “Overview of the NDC Program: What You Need to Know,” we introduced IATA’s NDC (New Distribution Capability) Program, which is quickly becoming the industry standard for the transmission of data between airlines and the travel community.

For those less familiar with the NDC, let’s refresh.

Refresher: What is the NDC and Who’s Adopting it?

Late 2012, IATA (International Air Transport Association) launched the NDC program, a plan for development and adoption of a new data transmission standard between airlines and travel agents. It aims to transform the way air products are retailed to corporations and leisure and business travelers, by providing access to full and rich air content and a transparent shopping experience.

When the previous blog article was published, over 30 airlines had openly embraced the NDC by registering for the certification program, and some had even gone as far as announcing or implementing their new distribution strategies (i.e. Lufthansa, British Airways, and American Airlines).

In 2015, Lufthansa instituted a €16 surcharge to TMCs for bookings made through the GDSs (Global Distribution Systems) in an attempt to push the bookings through what they consider the lower cost NDC direct channel.

Earlier this year, IAG (International Consolidated Airlines Group), which owns British Airways and Iberia, announced its plans to follow suit by implementing a €9.50 surcharge for bookings made outside of NDC connections. This strategy went into effect on November 1, 2017.

American Airlines announced in June 2017 that they would take a different approach, by implementing a wholesale model where they would compensate travel agencies for distributing each AA-marketed flight segment booked using an approved NDC connection. American notified travel partners this week that their strategy remains the same.

Air France-KLM Joins the Surcharge Club

One of the most recent updates was Air France-KLM’s announcement that they will also be instituting a surcharge on global distribution system bookings, effective next April. They also announced that they will launch a NDC interface in early 2018. The distribution surcharge would be in the €11 per direction applied at the time of ticketing.

That said, airlines aren’t the only ones adopting the NDC standard. NDC Certification is open to airlines, agents and aggregators. IT Providers are also eligible to become NDC-Capable.

NDC Certification

So, what are the certification levels, and what do they mean?

A company’s NDC certification level is determined by their ability to access specific shopping content through the new xml-based transmission standard.

Level 1: capable of accessing basic shopping content, including airline profiles and post booking ancillaries (i.e. baggage allowance, seat availability, and services).

Level 2:  makes extensive use of offer management API and can access air content (flights)

Level 3:  makes extensive use of offer and order management API and can access/book air content and create, view, or change orders.

GDS Adoption of NDC Program

Many GDSs have begun the certification process.

Sabre is currently certified Level 1, but their roadmap is to become certified Level 2 and Level 3 in 2018.

Travelport GDS is certified at Level 1, while Travelport IT is certified at Level 2. Travelport’s goal is to achieve full Level 3 certification before the end of Q1 in 2018.

Additionally, Amadeus IT is certified at Level 3, but their GDS business has not attained certification yet.

Stay tuned! As new developments occur, we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop. Check back here for ongoing updates. Have questions? Share them below!

Banner image by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

Tiffany Zerby

Written by Tiffany Zerby