Travelport has stolen a march on rival GDSs by becoming the first to manage a flight booking and have an agency issue tickets using New Distribution Capability (NDC) content.
GDS-parent Travelport revealed UK travel management company Meon Valley Travel completed the first NDC transaction last Friday (October 19), booking a London-Milan flight on a “major European carrier”.
Iata’s NDC standard has been in development since 2012. It aims to enable online-style retailing through intermediaries.
But Travelport noted GDS-enabled NDC technology will also allow third-party agents to book flights and airline ancillaries via a GDS without incurring a GDS surcharge.
Europe’s major network carriers – the Lufthansa Group, IAG-owned British Airways and Iberia, and Air France-KLM – have all imposed charges on GDS bookings over the past three years.
Travelport said the booking, managed through its latest Smartpoint agency point-of-sale technology, marked “the first of a series of products Travelport is developing to accommodate changing airline distribution methods”.
The company pledged: “Over the next few months, the first version of the NDC capability launched this week will be used by a steadily increasing number of agencies and airlines as part of the NDC rollout.
“It will be followed by a series of product enhancements, including a version for online agents in 2019.”
Travelport president and chief executive Gordon Wilson said: “This is a landmark moment for airline distribution.
“We’re delighted to have taken a lead in bringing the NDC era to life. It has required an extraordinary amount of skill and expertise to make this happen and I want to thank my colleagues at Travelport as well as our partners.”
However, Wilson said: “We’re still at the very earliest stages of NDC deployment. Its evolution will continue to take time.”
Iata financial and distribution services senior vice president Aleks Popovich congratulated Travelport, saying: “This is a significant step toward the new era of airline retailing.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Travelport as it advances NDC-enabled products.”
Colin Boddy, Meon Valley Travel corporate director, said: “We’re proud to be the first agency to make an NDC booking using our preferred GDS channel.”