Now that DOT has cleared the storm clouds over NDC, airline conference rooms around the globe are being booked for meetings about NDC. These meetings range from a simple, internal exploratory discussions on the NDC topic to serious “next steps” planning sessions on whether the airline will buy or build its own NDC API, while also prioritizing which GDSs and aggregators are ready to accept the airline’s NDC XML API when it’s ready.
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Now before we get into whether to NDC or not NDC, I think a few clarifying facts and terms are in order. Along with the term “NDC,” one will quickly have to deal with terms and concepts like “NDC Solution Providers,” “Aggregators,” and “NDC Schema.” So let’s start with some basic definitions.
NDC Solution Providers are generally technology companies, including those operating a PSS (Passenger Service System), that have both the capability and interest in building out airline NDC XML API connectors inclusive of comprehensive integration with the airline host and other systems, such as merchandising and pricing. (In case you were wondering, Farelogix fits into this category). I like to call this group the Makers.
NDC-Capable Aggregators are generally distribution-related companies or travel technology companies that possess the capability to accept and integrate an airline’s NDC XML API with other airline content from one or more sources. Obviously the GDS companies are the biggest of these aggregators, but there are a growing number of others making a name for themselves in this space. I call these folks the Takers.
NDC Schema is the actual technical connectivity roadmap that is being standardized by IATA and airline/3rd party workgroups. NDC Schema version 1.1 is anticipated to be finalized and published in Q4 of this year.
This version 1.1 schema will officially be the first technical “rules of engagement,” if you will, for those NDC Solution Providers and NDC-Capable Aggregators. The Solution Providers (the Makers) will build out the airline connectivity, most likely starting with the NDC-shop, as this defines the offer/pricing creation at the airline level – the essence of NDC. The NDC Solution Providers will follow the NDC Schema so that the NDC-Capable Aggregators (the Takers) will have a reliable and consistent set of connectivity messages. In other words, if an NDC-Capable Aggregator connects to two or more airline NDC XML APIs (even if for shop only) where those airline XML APIs were built by different NDC Solution Providers, they will send and receive consistent and expected data. This makes the life for an NDC-Capable Aggregator a heck of a lot easier and enables them to scale and perform multiple airline connectivity for their customers in the most efficient manner.
Up Next… the real questions around “To NDC, or Not To NDC” because you know we just love to Ask the Question!