Alexandria, Va. - The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and Business Travel Coalition (BTC) today rejected emphatically the claim by IATA that the new “standard” it has developed for retail distribution was the “culmination of 12 months of intense coordination across the value chain with participation from airlines, global distribution systems, the travel agency community including online travel agencies and IT providers and their respective trade organizations.” IATA made the assertion in a press release at the end of its World Passenger Symposium in Abu Dhabi last week.
“The claim of participation by 'the travel agency community' and its 'trade organizations' is an illusion, plain and simple," said Nina Meyer, president and chief executive officer of ASTA. “We and fellow travel agency organizations around the world have been denied transparent participation in the development process for what IATA calls the New Distribution Capability (NDC). IATA cannot legitimately claim this is an 'industry effort' on the grounds that one or two individual agencies were present. And the claim that it will enhance competition is called into question in light of NDC’s apparent preclusion of full price transparency and comparison.”
“Let's call a spade a spade. IATA recently assured us that NDC was in its very, very early stages and that technical standards to be adopted in the upcoming working session in Montreal were just the beginning of a long development process. However, the setting of direction usually needs to precede the development of technical standards. As such, the likely reason organizations representing travel agencies and corporate travel departments were excluded from the process, including the Montreal meeting, is because decisions about direction and business models have already been taken; there is no role left, no opportunity for input from these organizations," said BTC chairman Kevin Mitchell. "To state as IATA has that 'The key attributes of the NDC include that: The NDC is built on the principles of collaboration, transparency and innovation,' is an insult to corporate customers who largely underwrite the global aviation system."