Open Allies for Airfare Transparency: Travel Industry Groups Propose
Collaborative Process for Development of Distribution Standards, Invite IATA
Dublin / Washington D.C. - October 28, 2013 - Several travel industry
organizations from the U.S. and Europe today announced a collaborative process
to help develop open and business-model neutral data standards that will
enable enhanced distribution of airline products through any channel.
The goal of the initiative is help the industry reach consensus on technical
standards that will enable greater communication efficiency, consumer choice,
and transparency of information across all distribution channels. It will
also facilitate airlines' efforts to make custom offers to travelers while
fully preserving robust comparison-shopping across multiple carriers and
protecting consumers' data privacy rights.
U.S. organizations endorsing the initiative included the American Society of
Travel Agents (ASTA), the Business Travel Coalition (BTC), the Consumer Travel
Alliance (CTA), and the Travel Technology Association (Travel Tech). On the
European side, the European Technology & Travel Services Association (ETTSA)
and the European Federation of Travel Agents' Associations (ECTAA) issued a
separate statement supporting the initiative.
The groups invited the International Air Transport Association (IATA),
Airlines for America (A4A) and other relevant travel industry stakeholders to
join this cooperative multilateral initiative.
The groups believe the initiative could effectively end the acrimony caused by
IATA's unilaterally developed New Distribution Capability (NDC), which has
received harsh criticism from many parts of the travel industry and from
government officials. At the same time, it will enable airlines to sell their
products in smarter and more cost-effective ways across all distribution
"We need to come together as an industry, with IATA and the carriers, to
develop a sensible, business-model neutral data standard which enables
airlines to effectively distribute rich content and enhances the
comparison-shopping experience for consumers and travel buyers," said Paul
Ruden, ASTA's Senior Vice President for Legal and Industry Affairs.
"Another major travel organization issued its own call for a direct dialogue
with IATA on Friday, an effort that we strongly commend and hope will become
part of this broad industry-wide collaboration," continued Ruden.
"Today's flight shopping experience leaves consumers confused and angry
because airlines do not make available the full all-in price including extra
fees and charges in a transparent way," said Charlie Leocha, Director of the
Consumer Travel Alliance. "We think there's an opportunity to set technology
standards that make the experience more transparent, user-friendly,
customized, and competitive, all while protecting consumers' privacy."
"We are extending the olive branch to IATA to work with us in a cooperative
manner to encourage technological innovation for the industry and increased
customization for travelers," continued Kevin Mitchell, Chairman of BTC. "We
hope they will accept our invitation to reset the dialogue and move forward
"We've spent a year arguing over standards that clearly are not supported by
the airlines' vital partners or travellers themselves," added Steve Shur,
President of Travel Tech. "We're offering to put down our swords and come
together on a new and better approach that includes all of the key
stakeholders in the air travel industry."
To ensure the standard-setting process remains focused on the needs of the
traveling public, the groups also endorsed a set of consumer-focused
Principles for the Future of Air Travel Distribution. Those Principles,
appended in full below, include transparency, choice, competition, innovation,
The groups will provide more information on their initiative during a
telephone press conference in Dublin, Ireland, on Monday 28 October 2013 (11am
ET, 4pm Ireland time, 5pm CET), just before the start of IATA's World
Passenger Symposium. A multi-stakeholder forum will then be organised for
Moving forward, the group intends to broaden the discussion to include other
stakeholders such as hoteliers, car rental companies, rail operators, and
cruise lines who will benefit from broader industry cooperation in setting
American Society of Travel Agents
ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) members represent 80% of all travel
sold in the United States and its membership is growing internationally.
ASTA's history of travel industry advocacy traces back to its founding more
than 80 years ago, with the mission to facilitate the business of selling
travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement
of professionalism. For more information, visit ASTA.org.
Business Travel Coalition
Founded in 1994, the mission of Business Travel Coalition is to interpret
industry and government policies and practices and provide a platform so that
the managed travel community can influence issues of strategic importance to
Consumer Travel Alliance
The Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization
that works to provide consumers an articulate and reasoned voice in decisions
that affect travel consumers across the travel spectrum. CTA's staff gathers
facts, analyzes issues, and disseminates that information to the public, the
travel industry, regulators and policy makers.
The Travel Technology Association
The Travel Technology Association, or Travel Tech, is the association for
online travel companies (OTCs) and global distribution systems (GDSs), and is
dedicated to connecting consumers and travel providers, eliminating barriers
to travel and protecting consumers. Travel Tech's members include: Amadeus,
Expedia, Orbitz Worldwide, Priceline, Sabre, Travelocity, Travelport and
Principles for the Future of Air Travel Distribution
Consumers today have an incredible range of options for searching, comparing,
and purchasing travel services, from online travel sites to traditional travel
agents, corporate travel departments, and provider web sites. The current
system is robust and competitive, and participants are adapting quickly to
meet the changing needs of their customers.
The undersigned organizations help distribute and book air, rail, hotel,
cruise, and car rental services for hundreds of millions of business and
leisure travelers around the world. Our organizations are driven by the needs
of the traveling public. Our vision for a consumer-focused and competitive
future of air travel is based on the principles below.
Travelers should be able to compare prices and purchase all of the services
they will need for their flights at the time of booking, including ancillary
services. Travelers (or their agents) should be able to see all of the
options and fees available for a flight before travel is booked, so they can
make informed decisions during the booking process.
Travelers should be able to compare prices and services between a broad range
of airlines, and they should be able to compare base fares and ancillary
services with the base fares and services from other airlines that sell
through the same distribution channel. Choice should be driven by the
traveler's needs, and the traveler should be able to compare, contrast, and
choose the supplier that best meets those needs.
Travelers should have access to a robust and competitive marketplace of
airlines and other travel suppliers who compete for their business on a level
playing field. Both anonymous and self-identified travelers should be able to
compare their full range of options among airlines.
Innovation is driven by competition, and travelers should have a broad range
of options to book their travel, ranging from airlines to online travel
companies, corporate travel departments, and traditional travel agencies.
Each of those companies should be able to choose and develop the technologies
that best meet its needs, so long as those systems do not interfere with open,
transparent pricing and consumer choice.
Travelers should be able to shop anonymously in a setting in which all
applicable privacy laws and regulations are respected. Customization should
be at the request of the traveler, not at the demand of the supplier, and
travel suppliers should allow travelers to decide which additional services
they would like to receive, if any, whether traveling on business of for
leisure with their family.
Chairman, Business Travel Coalition
Phone: (610) 999-9247
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Source: Open Allies for Airfare Transparency via Thomson Reuters ONE
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