New IATA distribution project hits European legal stumbling block

IATA’s proposals for an airline ancillary platform has hit its first hurdle as travel agents’ associations in Europe file concerns with the European Commission.

IATA’s New Distribution Capability, an XML-based platform to sell ancillary products, was unveiled at its annual World Passenger Symposium in Abu Dhabi in October when 30 airlines voted in favour of proposals.

At the time many travel industry organisations spoke out about the initiative, voicing concerns over their lack of early involvement, fare transparency issues and the costs involved in developing new systems for travel agents.

Global distribution giants also gave their reaction with Sabre saying:

“Based on our extensive evaluation and deep technical analysis of IATA’s proposal, our conclusion is clear. We do not see how the proposed NDC approach would work in the real world without sacrificing fare transparency, limiting comparison shopping and compromising data privacy rights.”

Now, the Guild of European Business Travel Agents (GEBTA) and the Group of National Travel Agents and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA) have jointly sent letters to the Commission’s DG MOVE (transport division) and DG COMP (competition division).

The letters express concern over the compliance of IATA’s proposals with European legislation including competition law, transparency of air ticket prices and personal data protection.

Tnooz has asked IATA for a comment.

It is too early to say what how the authorities are likely to react.

NB: Flags image via Shutterstock

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail to someone

About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda is Managing Editor for tnooz. For the past decade, she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine. In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management, and research companies. Prior to her freelance career, she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.



  1. Flyer

    A close reading of IATA resolution 787 ( shows a fair amount of wiggle room for IATA and airlines when it comes to adopting IATA’s to-be-defined standards/process/initiative/API/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.

    I’m no expert on reading between the lines of IATA resolutions but I see nothing in this resolution that requires airlines or their trading partners to implement the final product. Sure, I see a lot of ‘shall’ and ‘will’ but those terms don’t carry much weight legally.

    Mostly I see a lot of scenarios that may or may not be implementable, commercially or technically, depending on the market or region or culture. ECTAA and GEBTA seem to be making some worst-case assumptions to to get some traction for their point of view.

    The politics in this initiative are truly mind-boggling and I for one am enjoying the show. I expect it to play out for many months to come.

  2. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    This becomes interesting as to whether or not there is jurisdiction and even if so – is now the right time.

    The airline cartel – IATA enjoys certain immunity (not complete) with regard to airline distribution. Further there is a specific code of conduct governed by DG Move (The ECAC Code of Conduct). A revision of which has been due for many months and still not published, despite a draft being released earlier this year. As DG MOVE has jurisdiction – then DG COMP will be unlikely to get involved.

    I believe from previously published reports that at least ECTAA has been actively involved in the discussions with IATA whereas others have either not chosen to or have been unable to get engagement with the process.

    At this point there is so much that is unknown – that its hard to say whether or not there is an issue. Sending letters to the 2 DGs is hardly earth shattering. I am inclined to think that the airlines and the agencies should talk more. However – the airlines should have the right to set their own direction. I doubt we would hear a squeal out of the car dealers if we were speaking about hard goods like vehicles. If an airline chooses to use the new tools as a way to break current law – then there is a case. But I doubt that the EC has any jurisdiction over the matter until there is a clear set of rules and elements published (and an implementation plan in place) and then DG MOVE has to consider the matter both in current and proposed ECAC Code of Conduct. That would appear to be some time away.

    At the end of the day – no one has a given right to anything. Anyone who thinks so needs to have their heads examined.




Newsletter Subscription

Please subscribe now to Tnooz’s FREE daily newsletter.

This lively package of news and information from Tnooz’s web site provides a convenient digest of what’s happening in technology that drives the global travel, tourism and hospitality market.

  • Cancel