Open AXIS air distribution standards group taken over by ATPCO

Airfare data filing service ATPCO has assumed responsibility for the Open AXIS Group, taking over maintaining and developing the organisation’s XML standards for airlines.

ATPCO confirmed the change of ownership of the schema this week following an agreement by Open AXIS board members late last year to place the organisation under the control of the airline-owned fare handling service.

The airline schema created by Open AXIS will continue to be made available to airlines and other organisations, says ATPCO managing director of product strategy and development, Tom Gregorson.

The switch ends a two and a half year ride for Open AXIS after its creation in the summer of 2010 by a number of airlines (Air Canada, American Airlines, Continental, Delta, United and US Airways) and ATPCO.

A string of tech-based organisations also signed up including FarelogixDatalex and ARC. To date almost 50 organisations have joined the group.

It is unclear at this stage what will happen to Open AXIS executive director and airline veteran Jim Young as a result of what is essentially a winding up of the organisation, although he will not be moving to ATPCO.

The transfer of the non-profit organisation to ATPCO is said to have cost a nominal but unconfirmed fee of $1. ATPCO will not disclose the amount paid.

Despite agreeing to cooperate in September 2010 with existing standards body OpenTravel Alliance to align their respective XML schema, both have seemingly found themselves positioned as rivals at the centre of the New Distribution Capability service being created and promoted heavily by IATA.

IATA (primarily a committee of airlines pushing the initiative) is currently in the process of evaluating and selecting which XML schema will be used as the backbone of NDC. Most watching the saga unravel do not think IATA will use a hybrid of the two.

As the NDC project is seen by many as likely have some kind of impact on ATPCO, as airfare filing could be one of a number of changes made to how airlines distribute content, transferring the schema to ATPCO could put the organisation “back in the game” if the standards are adopted by IATA, as one figure close to the project suggests.

Gregorson says:

“The Open AXIS Group schemas were developed and approved by many of IATA’s members and New Distribution Capability (NDC) project participants, so, for example, these standards could support IATA in the NDC project.”

ATPCO says it will also continue to develop new XML standards in collaboration with airlines and the wider travel industry.

Gregorson adds:

“ATPCO has always worked with industry organizations in the development of new solutions and standards, and we expect similar collaboration with our airline and system customers, IATA, OpenTravel Alliance, and other travel associations in connection with our new responsibilities for the XML schemas.

“Such teamwork benefits the entire industry by ensuring the consistency and flexibility that are essential to the success of fare distribution today and in the future.”

ATPCO is owned by a string of international airlines including Delta, British Airways, American Airlines, Air Canada, KLM, United, Iberia and Air France. It was formed by the Air Transport Association of America in 1945 and became an independent company known as Airline Tariff Publishers in 1965.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. radosc

    It’s a war and there are causalities. NDC has already introduced threat to GDS’s and ATPCo so I’m sure there will be a lot of costly defense to get a grip on technology before new players can take over. All these companies are 20 years behind, but resources are there to fight.

  2. Trevor Heley

    I am not convinced that ATPCO is the right organisation for owning this. In my past dealings with them I felt that they were too wedded to setting and then monetising standards rather than being collaborative. I also agree with comment by Fiona about their technical prowess

    They were also very north American centric (mainly because of the domination of airlines from that region in their shareholding)

    Of course they may have changed but i remain sceptical until otherwise proven wrong.

  3. Fiona

    I’m really interested in seeing how this plays out. ATPCo is not known for its XML, or general coding, prowess, as their main product is in flat file format. To maintain the schema, they’re going to need to upgrade their skill set.


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