“There’s no walking it back.”
Jim Davidson, Farelogix
and cost savings for our customers,” Menke said during
Sabre’s most recent earnings call.
It’s no surprise that Menke has emerged as the leader
of the GDS industry’s about-face on NDC. As chief
commercial ofcer of Air Canada in the frst decade
of the century, he was involved in the creation of new
forms of airline merchandising, notably fare families. He
was also involved in the struggle to get GDS companies
to display the fares the way they were intended. Tat
resulted in a pitched battle with Sabre, which “
de-pref-erenced” the carrier’s listings in its system.
Five years ago, Farelogix, a prominent developer of
merchandising tools for airlines, was associated with
NDC—it donated the original XML schemas to form
the basis of the technical standard—and with direct connections and other technologies that were anathema to
the GDS companies. Sabre booted Farelogix out of its
developer program, and it was hard to keep track of the
Fast forward to today: Farelogix is working with
NDC teams at all three GDSs. Tese are “A-teams that
really understand integration,” Farelogix CEO Jim Davidson said.
What changed? For one thing, even before Menke
came to Sabre, Amadeus and particularly Travelport
were always more open to seeing where NDC would
lead the industry. Tese three GDS companies ultimately seem to have decided they were in danger of being left
behind in their ability to handle airlines’ merchandising
For another, the notion that airlines didn’t want to
sell their full product lines through travel management
companies—the gateway to the corporate market and
prime users of the GDSs—was just silly.
Of course, NDC is not the only factor on the merchandising scene, but it plays a signifcant role. “Tere’s
no walking it back,” Davidson said. “It’s here to stay,” if
for no other reason than the amount of money that has
gone into it from major global airlines such as American
Airlines, British Airways, Emirates Airline, Lufthansa
and United Airlines.
When Travelport began rolling out its merchandis-
ing platform in the spring of 2013, it took an agnos-
tic approach to how airlines could connect with it.
KLM connected via industry standards of the time.
Air Canada and British Airways connected through
APIs. Alitalia, Air New Zealand and Aegean used Air-
line Tarif Publishing Co. (ATPCo)-fled ancillary ser-
vices fulflled via Electronic Miscellaneous Document.
Today, more than 250 airlines participate in Travel-
port’s Rich Content & Branding solution, part of the
platform that also includes aggregated shopping and
And there are many more projects and partnerships
building NDC solutions. Together with Flight Centre
Travel Group, a new customer in the Europe/Middle
East/Africa and Asia-Pacifc regions, Amadeus is building “NDC-X,” a new solution that will enable travel
sellers worldwide to shop, order and pay for fights
and related services. It also will allow the changing and
canceling of bookings using the NDC standard within
Amadeus Selling Platform Connect.
Amadeus is collaborating with several airlines to de-fne a solution that gives travel agents access to travel
content using the NDC standard. As it progresses on
the NDC-X program, it plans to evolve its entire travel
platform to bring together all relevant content from any
source—GDS, NDC, proprietary APIs and aggrega-tors—to be distributed via any channel or device.
Amadeus and Sabre, the two largest providers of passenger services systems, are beginning to address how
NDC relates to the passenger service systems (PSS). “It’s
not only just how you sell a product but also how you
fulfll the product,” Amadeus CEO Luis Maroto said.
“Tat does get into the PSS.”
Tat alignment has been a big part of the conversa-
tion with airlines lately, he said, “and a lot of those com-
ponents of what we talk about are going to be rolling out
in Q4 this year.”
Also in Q4, Sabre will begin rolling out its new
Digital Airline Commercial Platform, “with capabili-
ties unlike anything else available today,” Menke said.