IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler enticed members of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) and Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) on the benefits of New Distribution Capability (NDC) at a joint seminar in Mumbai last week. NDC is a distribution trend with standardized online content that will give a professional edge to agents and bridge the gap with airlines.
On his maiden address to industry associations in India, Mr Tyler said: “IATA is a vehicle to develop standards for aviation. NDC is a travel industry-supported program launched by IATA for the development and market adoption of a new, XML-based data transmission standard (NDC Standard). The NDC Standard will bridge the gap and enhance the capability of communications between airlines and travel agents.”
TAAI & TAFI members at IATA seminar in Mumbai
Today, increased competition on internet is putting agents at a disadvantage. They have to feed in a customer booking, go into another system to update his frequent flyer details, and they can’t sell add-ons because most of the time, they don’t even know that there are any, plus it’s not linked to the back office accounting.
Mr Tyler said: “Airlines want is to display more of their products – extra legroom, meals and other ancillaries to consultants so they can give customers better informed decisions. NDC is about providing the system feasibility to drive that content through the GDS to the agency office.”
NDC will improve the environment for travel consultants and will make the agency look more professional and knowledgeable, all in one screen.
Answering to Mr Jay Bhatia, Chairman – Tourism Council at Travel Agents Association of India’s query on leaving out India agents in the development of NDC, Mr Tyler confessed that IATA didn’t do a good job in engaging agents since its launch two years ago and hoped to involve the community in creating India specific standards when an airline in the region shows interest in NDC.
The NDC Standard will be open to any third party, intermediary, IT provider or non-IATA member, to implement and use. With NDC, travelers shopping through agencies will be able to compare the full product offering—tailored to their specific requirements.
60 percent of global airline ticketing business still comes through travel agents. NDC will replace pre-internet standards and develop and build content that will make the process easy for travel agents and help them face challenges in the internet based business.
On bridging the aviation gap in India, Mr Tyler said that the IATA has called for the development of a comprehensive policy for aviation aligned with the Indian Government’s stated intention to make it easier to do business in India.
Sunil Kumar, Acting President TAAI, Tony Tyler, DG & CEO IATA & Zakkir Ahmed, President TAFI
Mr Tyler said: “Already aviation and aviation-related tourism support 7 million Indian jobs and $23 billion of India’s GDP. The healthy growth of the sector has the potential to expand these benefits tremendously. The e-tourist visa initiative is a tangible example of progress and signals that India is open for visitors. But there are immense challenges which must be overcome—as seen in the sector’s financial performance. While demand growth is robust and some airlines are generating profit, sector-wide losses for India are still expected to exceed $1 billion this year. Onerous regulation and processes, debilitating taxes and expensive infrastructure are holding back the industry’s ability to deliver greater economic benefits to India.”
Little over 100 million people travelled by air last year to, from and within India. Nearly 280 million air travelers are expected by 2029, by which time India would hold the rank of the world’s third largest aviation market.
Mr Zakir Ahmed, President, TAFI, requested IATA chief to bring back the full fledged IATA office to burgeoning India. India agents have to deal with IATA’s Singapore office for any enquiry, as IATA India is only a representative office.
Aviation accounts for about 1% of global GDP. The whole aviation value chain supports 58 million jobs and accounts for $2.4 trillion of economic output.
IATA is celebrating its 70th year of formation and has 79,000 travel agent members in 210 countries that generated $256 bn in 2014 with 99.98 on-time settlement on sales to airlines. 260 airlines are members of IATA.
Written by Anand & Madhura Katti