Travelport chief dismisses BA’s NDC

The head of Travelport has dismissed the new distribution capability (NDC) connectivity of British Airways and Iberia as “not fit for purpose”

Travelport president and chief executive Gordon Wilson said: “I don’t know of a single agency of any size that has signed up to BA’s NDC capability.

“It [the connectivity] is all through the GDS model and they couch it in language like ‘We agree to explore NDC’. But they all say the GSD provides the best value.”

IAG-owned BA and Iberia began levying a €9.50 (£8) charge “per fare component” on GDS bookings on Wednesday, meaning travel management companies (TMCs) and leisure agents without fee-waiver agreements face a €19 (£16) surcharge on point-to-point return fares.

Air France-KLM confirmed it will follow BA and Iberia’s lead with a GDS fee from next April. The Lufthansa Group has levied a charge on GDS bookings since September 2015.

BA and Iberia announced the charge in May, insisting it would apply “to bookings not made using an NDC-based connection” or direct.

Wilson said: “It is five months on and, low and behold, there is no NDC connectivity of any note.”

But he added: “I’m optimistic. Our full content contract with BA only ran out on October 31.

“We are negotiating with BA on how to move forward. The vast majority of agencies we have [contracts with] in the UK are businesses that BA finds valuable.”

BA has agreed  deals waiving the fee for corporate travel giants CWT, HRG and American Express GBT and other TMCs and agencies, but so far only for bookings via Amadeus.

However, Wilson said: “IAG has done us a favour by demonstrating the value of the GDS channel. Its NDC protocol is not ready and it’s not fit for purpose.

“Some airlines thought NDC was going to be a panacea. Now they are starting to understand there is more to it. I think there has been a step change in attitude [by IAG].”

Wilson added: “NDC will come, absolutely. Our guys are already working on NDC.

“We’re not opposed to NDC in terms of sourcing content. But it does not address data management and all the things that happen now through the GDS.”

He said BA had “broken its compact with full content for everybody” and forecast: “They will pick and choose who they work with and others will bear price increases, because that is what the GDS surcharge means.

“But I imagine the private [NDC] channel will be available through all the GDSs.”

Wilson was speaking as he reported results for the three months to September, for which Travelport recorded a 3% rise in revenue.

The company posted a 4% revenue rise for the nine months to date, with a 2% increase in operating profit.

Wilson reported costs “somewhat higher than anticipated” on the back of “an order book twice the size of this time last year”.

He told analysts: “The NDC API will not replace or replicate many of the vital capabilities that a platform such as ours provides and at the scale that we do it.”

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