Blanket NDC push “highly disruptive” – ASATA CEO

Driving agents away from the GDS and on to separate NDC booking channels for every airline, without filtering market readiness, is highly disruptive of an agent’s workflow, says Otto de Vries, CEO ASATA in a Travel News article this week.

This comes as Emirates joins the list of airlines, including Lufthansa Group, Air France-KLM Group, International Airlines Group, Singapore Airlines, Aegean, and Qantas, announcing its intention to add a surcharge on tickets booked through the GDS, forcing travel agents to use its own direct connection gateway launched last year.

Emirates will add a fee of between $14 and $25 for tickets booked through the global distribution system players AmadeusTravelport, China’s TravelSky, Japan’s Infini, and Russia’s Sirena.

“It is apparent that the South African market is not a high adopter of NDC fares yet, which may in some cases be related to the relative lack of technological development compared with other source markets. At present, attempting to drive agents away from the GDS … may result in consultants offselling in favour of airlines that are still facilitating competitive pricing and an easy booking processes through the GDS,” he said. 

According to a Skift article, Emirates is a relative latecomer to “unbundling” its product and has been forced to do so as it finds itself competing in some markets against rival carriers that have already unbundled products, giving them a cheaper base price point for more bare-bones tickets.

Emirates has responded by setting aside some of its products, such as seat upgrades and the ability to pay excess baggage fees, for sale only on its consumer site, Its new gateway portal will make this same content available to participating travel agencies and other trade partners. Agencies, it says, will pay less than the advertised surcharge to access the content on this so-called private channel.

Meanwhile, Aerospace Technology says while the concept behind NDC provides myriad benefits, the processes and costs associated with its implementation are serving as a barrier to mass adoption.

“Agencies can log into these platforms and gain direct access to tailor-made fares, dynamic pricing, and rich ancillary content. However, this is not an efficient way of booking because the travel agent is no longer using a central reservation system. It results in a patchy and lengthy booking process as the agent has to use multiple booking tools to compare quotes, confirm flights, cancel, and amend bookings. This does not help the consumer – according to a GlobalData 2019 global tourism consumer survey, 91% of respondents said they are interested in buying products that save them time and effort.”