American Airlines will move forward on April 3 with its controversial plan to make 100% of its content available only to travel agencies booking through an NDC connection.
The carrier announced the launch date in a Monday memo to travel agencies, saying that April 3 will be the day it begins to “offer our best available third-party public channel content only through NDC connections.”
American also said that travel advisors can now view the fares that will only be available via NDC connections.
Agents will continue to be able to see those fare within GDSs via legacy Edifact technology, but they’ll need an NDC connection to make the booking.
American’s decision to go forward with the April 3 shift comes over the objections of ASTA, which had asked the airline to hold off on implementing the change until the end of the year. ASTA as well as many leisure and corporate travel agencies have chafed that American hasn’t given them enough time to update their technology systems since announcing the NDC shift in December.
Agencies have also expressed concern about the readiness of American and the GDSs, especially Sabre, to handle various booking use cases and post-booking servicing.
American addressed such concerns in its memo.
“The three major Global Distribution Systems and several travel technology providers will be ready to provide connections to American’s NDC content by April,” it reads. “Like any significant technology transition, some providers will offer more servicing features and functionalities in their initial releases than other. The small number of servicing functionalities that won’t be available immediately either don’t affect a significant number of transactions or will become available shortly.”
The letter continues, “We expect our travel retailing partners to continue to provide servicing to our customers who transact through indirect channels, as per their existing agreements. “We understand there may be some growing pains through the technology transition and we’ll continue to maintain an industry-leading sales support – that is complimentary to access – to further assist travel retailers with issues that may arise.”
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Aside from concerns about the NDC transition, American has engendered anger from the travel advisor community in recent weeks after cutting a substantial, but unspecified, portion of its agency-facing sales organization.
In Monday’s memo, American reiterated its position that by transitioning toward NDC-enabled third-party merchandising, American and travel agencies will better be able to support customers with a full offering of tailored products.
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