Airlines have ignored trade opposition and unanimously endorsed Iata’s controversial New Distribution Capability.

Support for the initiative at the airline body’s AGM came as director general and chief executive Tony Tyler hit out at opponents of the planned XML-based distribution standard for data exchange between airlines and travel agents.

Iata members agreed that “consumers will benefit from being able to make choices based on enriched content and the ability to compare and transact airline offers in a transparent fashion”.

The US-based Business Travel Coalition has been leading opposition to NDC, claiming it would alter airline policies and practices covering the pricing and sale of air services by travel management companies, travel agents and GDSs on a global basis.

Acknowledging that NDC faces “some opposition,” Tyler said: “Frankly, some of our opponents are not telling the truth. Let me clear the air with some facts.

“NDC will not contravene privacy laws. Nothing in the NDC standard requires passengers to supply personal information to receive an offer. But it does provide the opportunity for customers to identify themselves—if they so choose—to have their loyalty recognized by the airlines.

“NDC will not bypass travel agents. It will enable them to sell all of what airlines have on offer.

“And, NDC will not eliminate comparison shopping. It will give customers better information on which to make decisions.

“NDC will support photographic product descriptions so that people can see what they are buying. And it will enable passengers to compare the base fare as well as the cost of all the options that are available.”

Iata members confirmed that airlines and other industry players will be free to decide whether or not to adopt NDC to support some or all of their distribution needs. Iata said it would continue to support the existing “legacy standard” while demand for it exists.

Tyler voiced confidence in regulators understanding the value that NDC will bring to consumers and supporting its development.

He said: “Consumers want to be able to buy air travel products in the same way that they purchase other goods, with full access to product information, the ability to comparison-shop and to see the full value of the offer.

“And we want our travel agent partners to be able to offer it. NDC will enable this to happen.”