Last updated: 04:16 PM ET, Thu May 02 2013

As DOT Filing Deadline Passes, Disputes over IATA’s Resolution 787 Remain

Features & Advice | American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) | Gretchen Kelly | May 02, 2013

May 1 marked the deadline for comments in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) public filing commentary on IATA’s Resolution 787 and the included “New Distribution Capability” a XML-based standard IATA says is merely a “ non-mandatory, shared language of booking” but which others say is antithetical to the public interest.

On May 2, IATA’s spokesman Perry Flint, issued a statement on Amadeus’ public comment saying, “In its filing, Amadeus expressed support for the objectives of NDC, including improving airlines’ ability to differentiate and merchandize their product offerings. Amadeus also said it supports attempts to standardize processes (NDC is about creating a new XML-based communications standard between airlines and travel agents). Furthermore, Amadeus notes that it has shared its own XML schema with IATA.”

“Amadeus also noted ‘that the market is moving quickly in the direction of the technology and the standardized communications protocols of the type that IATA seeks to promote and that Amadeus supports.’”

Debbie Iannac, spokesperson for Amadeus told Travel Pulse: "Amadeus wishes to build a common travel industry agenda to foster innovation and improve the sustainability of global travel for all participants in the travel distribution value chain. That’s why we have been proactively engaging with IATA from the start to ensure that all stakeholders’ views and requirements are taken into consideration when developing new standards. As part of this commitment, we have filed a submission to the DOT with our comments on IATA’s decision to seek approval of Resolution 787.

"While we support several stated objectives of NDC proponents, such as improving airlines’ ability to differentiate and merchandise their offer or attempts to standardize non-standard processes, we feel that Resolution 787 also addresses a few commercial and regulatory challenges that should be clarified.  We therefore feel that if the DOT were to approve the resolution, it should consider recommending conditions to the approval or request for clarifications approval, for aspects which are commercial and go beyond the functional requirements necessary to develop an industry standard."

On the negative side, the Business Travel Coalition (BTC), a for-profit advocacy agency, came out early on as a vocal opponent of the NDC.  In public webinars, through a circulated public petition and frequent press releases, the BTC said the NDC was “antithetical to the pubic interest” because it  “represents a new, worldwide business model for the pricing and sale of airline tickets. As evidenced by public statements and comments filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation, an expanding number of travel organizations from around the world are raising questions, concerns and objections…”

The BTC’s chairman, Kevin Mitchell says that “IATA should carefully consider stakeholder feedback…, shelve Resolution 787, start over, and when prepared, file with the DOJ for a Business Review Letter. If IATA were to receive a favorable Letter, then the industry would be assured that an independent government agency expert in antitrust law and with the power to investigate and compel testimony looked closely at an IATA Resolution and was comfortable that competition and consumers would not be harmed.”

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