Major airlines want a better way to sell to consumers and they've been working on the design for over a year already. In this new model, the current delivery of prices would be completely changed. Will this be a potentially lucrative API development opportunity? Just how cutting edge will this new approach be?
The news broke this past week during an annual gathering called the World Passenger Symposium which is coordinated by the International Air Travel Association (IATA). This gathering included representatives from the vast majority of notable companies in the air travel industry. At this meeting a resolution was adopted pursue the further specification, design, and implementation of an exceedingly generically named New Distribution Capability (NDC) system.
Today, airlines pump their prices into a Global Distribution System (GDS). I know, enough with the generic acronyms, right? This GDS system powers comparison shopping similiar to Expedia, Orbitz, and Priceline. In this model, Airlines can't really say who they'd like to offer their prices to, at least not in the way they would like. Under the NDC system, airlines would quote a price only in response to a detailed travel request. This request would include information on the specific customer and thus allow the airline to offer a price based on travel history or other parameters.
Experienced industry players such as Sabre Systems are candidates that I would expect to see joining this pilot program. What about smaller development companies? When will an alpha API be available for sign up? These questions remain unanswered, but this we can know for sure. The new system will rely on XML. That's already been laid down in what passes for stone these days.