Amadeus announced a long-term distribution contract with Flight Centre for EMEA and Asia in March but the mention of work around the NDC standard was more interesting.
The release not only talked about the companies working hand-in-hand to “transform” Flight Centre’s IT but also Flight Centre becoming a “driver” of “the creation of Amadeus’ new NDC-enabled solution for business and retail travel agencies.”
Flight Centre is a substantial player with multiple brands in both corporate and leisure travel and so represents a solid opportunity for Amadeus to create and test its NDC developments.
The partnership also puts Flight Centre at the centre of these developments, giving it the opportunity to steer things in a positive way for travel agents especially when it comes to the nitty-gritty of processes such as workflow.
Commenting on the deal, Flight Centre’s Marcus Eklund, global leader at FCM travel solutions says the company is not in a position itself to build up the technology and aggregate the content it needs in readiness for a “brave new world of NDC content and old content.”
He adds that the company is currently preparing for trials with airlines to see how NDC-based content might work with FCM’s systems but that it doesn’t amount to a lot of features and functionality, yet.
Eklund believes that it will be in the second half of 2018 that we will start to see something more concrete.
As for Amadeus, its roadmap is to be ready with an “industrialized solution” early next year, in a web-based environment first. That means a stable and scalable product and something that is a standard.
So far, much of the development around NDC seems to have been about different flavors and versions of it making for fragmented efforts.
Gianni Pisanello, who heads up Amadeus NDC-X, the program set up by the distribution company to drive adoption, says that above all the industry needs to make sure it really is a standard.
“The single most important issue is to make sure this is really a standard. We have been working very closely with IATA to make sure we do achieve something that is stable and unique and the only version of the truth. IATA is on board, airlines are also on board. it’s just living through the various stages of innovation. We’re now going into the industrialization of it, and we will see convergence (of the variations). Innovation is about experimentation, industrialization, standardization.”
He adds that it’s not just about the schema for the technology standard but standardization for other processes and workflow.
“It’s not good enough to only have the standard and the workflow but also that the airlines can handle the response times and performance levels. We’re going in the right direction but we’re not there yet. We’ve started to build from scratch but this is a decade-long initiative.”
The company announced its NDC Level 3 Aggregator certification from IATA in December.
And, more generally it seems as if things are moving for the standard. Eklund feels that until recently NDC was used to mean “everything between the sea and the sky” with not much being realistic. He says:
“Airlines also needed to see what reason to use this standard and the travel agent as well. Quite frankly I don’t think the airlines have been ready until this year.”
(Article originally published by Tnooz)