Airline association Iata has confirmed the New Distribution Capability (NDC) it is developing will allow carriers to personalise fares for passengers.

There are fears this will end the current system of ‘anonymous shopping’ via global distribution systems (GDSs) and lead to higher fares.

Iata NDC corporate envoy Paul Tilstone (pictured) said yesterday: “The airlines are going to want to make personalised offers.”

Addressing an NDC seminar at the Business Travel Show in London, Tilstone said: “Airlines will get [passenger] information from profiling.”

He told the audience of corporate travel buyers: “You should be thinking about how travel profile data will be kept. The airlines will try to get access to your travellers any way they can.”

Tilstone held a senior position at the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) until joining Iata last week.

Travelport vice-president for global airline strategy Ian Heywood agreed, saying: “There will be personalisation. It is already happening with Ryanair and easyJet and it is going to happen with the major [legacy] airlines.“ Heywood argued: “This is the most significant thing to affect the travel industry in the last 40 years.

“It means the airlines will deal direct with the customer. It will mean they manage every individual seat. They will dynamically price seats.”

Gary Hance, director of operational yield at travel management company ATPI, warned: “There is nothing to stop a carrier increasing prices based on individual passengers.”

He asked: “Where is your sanity check if prices come direct from the airline?”

Hance said: “Not all carriers will go down the NDC route. So it is going to be difficult to check offers by NDC carriers against non-NDC carriers.”

He pointed out: “When Iata first published the resolution [on NDC] there was stuff in it about [passengers‘] marital status and sex. It caused a furore and was taken out.

“Do you want anonymous shopping or do you want personalisation and prices determined partly by the [passenger’s] background?

“Only a year ago a major US carrier was in trouble for upping fares for its top-tier frequent fliers. The logic was ‘these top-tier fliers only go to our website’.”

He warned that personalised fares would mean “pricing could be higher as well as lower”.

Yanik Hoyles, director of the NDC programme at Iata, insisted: “NDC is a way to allow via a travel agent what airlines do on their website. Personalisation is only one little bit of NDC.”

Tilstone said: “It will depend on the airline. It is going to vary carrier by carrier.”

He added: “NDC presents everyone in the supply chain with an opportunity to demonstrate their value to the buyer.”