The UK Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) lambasted airline association Iata for its handling of the New Distribution Capability (NDC) yesterday.

GTMC chief executive Paul Wait (pictured) told the Iata World Passenger Symposium in Dublin: “Does NDC stand for negativity and confusion?

“In 40 years in the industry I’ve never known anything cause as much of both.”

Iata is seeking to develop NDC as a data-exchange standard for systems allowing Amazon-style retailing of fares and ancillaries through agents.

But Wait told the symposium: “It appears to have been developed in a purely confrontational way.

“Is NDC a member strategy or a market strategy? It appears to be purely a benefit to airlines.”

He asked: “Why would anyone want to go about it like this?

“It’s worrying to me and many in the corporate sector that airlines seem ignorant of business customer needs.

“Travellers may be both leisure and business travellers but they buy in different ways. Yet everything I hear is about business to the consumer, not business to business.”

Wait told the symposium: “There does not appear to be a change-management strategy in place at Iata.

“Is there an internal party line [among airlines] on NDC? There does not appear to be.” He added: “There is a lack of trust.”

The GTMC chief executive raised a catalogue of concerns. He said: “One concern is data privacy. What are airlines going to do with passenger information?

“Direct sell would undermine corporate policies. Airline pricing strategies [mean] it is going to take longer to price [a fare].

“What impact will NDC have on self-management if it takes longer to get to the point of making a fare comparison? Corporates will say, ‘We’re not paying a business traveller to take an hour and a quarter to book a flight.'”

Wait insisted: “NDC won’t change the way corporate customers buy. They want compliance to a channel. It is essential.”

He suggested Iata should be working with global distribution systems (GDSs) to develop the technology.

Wait said: “GDSs have played a vital role in developing distribution. Now is not the time to throw the baby out with the bath water.

“Everybody wants rich content, but we need integration not fragmentation.”