TORONTO — Air Canada is ready for the next phase of its NDC rollout – but are travel agencies?
Back in April, Air Canada announced that best available seat inventory and discounted ancillary pricing would go live via its NDC technology today, June 14, joining fare content already available including the carrier’s domestic Basic fares.
Today is also the scheduled start-date for Air Canada’s ‘Distribution Cost Recovery’ fee. Pegged at $20 – $30, the fee aims to address the high expense of legacy models, and applies to all tickets issued globally via GDS EDIFACT channels. The DCR does not apply to bookings made via any of Air Canada’s NDC connection options including NDC-sourced content in a GDS solution, as well as through Air Canada’s other direct booking channels such as aircanada.com, aircanada.com/agents, Air Canada for Business, and the Air Canada mobile app, or group bookings. The idea is that the DCR will be integrated into the fare and paid by the customer.
Air Canada is also set to introduce a new NDC coupon incentive today, to support travel agency transition to NDC – and away from GDS EDIFACT channels. The coupon incentive will apply to eligible NDC bookings made directly with an Air Canada NDC API connection or via select NDC certified technology partners.
Mark Nasr, Air Canada’s SVP Products, Marketing & eCommerce, was joined by Keith Wallis, Sr. Director, Distribution & Payments, and Lisa Pierce, VP Global Sales & ACV, at that Air Canada trade press conference in April, and the team laid out the why’s, how’s and when’s of the airline’s NDC strategy, especially as it relates to Air Canada’s travel agent partners. “We know a lot of people might not even know what NDC is. We know change is difficult. There will be bumps along the way. But there is no perfect time, and we have to start somewhere,” said Pierce.
A complete overview of that April press conference and Air Canada’s NDC plan can be found here.
WHAT ACTA SAYS NOW
The weeks have flown by since Air Canada’s April announcement, and June 14 came up fast. Travelweek reached out to the retail community for feedback.
ACTA President Wendy Paradis tells Travelweek that “based on consultations with ACTA and travel agency members, we believe that most are not ready – nor planning to move to NDC at this point in time.”
Paradis adds: “It appears that the vast majority are in the analysis and planning stages and implementation will take several more months. We are also finding that there is significant confusion about NDC capability and impacts.”
ACTA has been working to help its members navigate NDC, and will be hosting a number of webinars over the next several months with airline and GDS partners to help increase knowledge and clear up any confusion, says Paradis.
Travel agencies and travel advisors are invited to join ACTA’s NDC English and French webinars on June 19, presented by Air Canada. A second NDC webinar is scheduled with Amadeus on June 28.
Non-ACTA members taking part are asked to consider joining ACTA, or to make a donation to the ACTA Advocacy Fund.
The June 19 webinar, ‘Air Canada: An Introduction to NDC – New Distribution Capabilities’, will provide more information on …
- The challenges and limitations of current legacy GDS EDIFACT platforms
- The adoption of NDC technology globally
- The features, benefits, and unique content available through NDC channels
- The ways in which to access Air Canada’s NDC program
- The NDC Coupon Incentive
- How Air Canada is addressing unsustainable legacy distribution costs
The link to register for ACTA’s June 19 webinar with Air Canada is here.
The June 28 webinar, ‘Booking NDC – Sourced offers with Amadeus’, invites agents to join the Amadeus team to learn more about the Amadeus NDC [X] Program and how agents can provide more relevant, tailored offers to their clients. There will be a Q&A session at the end of the webinar.
The link to register for ACTA’s June 28 webinar with Amadeus is here.
MORE FEEDBACK FROM DIRECT TRAVEL, IFC, TTAND
One travel advisor that Travelweek spoke to said she was unaware of Air Canada’s NDC deadline today, adding that she doesn’t book through a GDS, but rather uses a consolidator.
Huntington Travel Group COO Ravi Kumar, said Huntington Travel “is ready and live with AC NDC content to service our travel advisors requiring NDC airfare content.”
Here’s a look at what other industry insiders told Travelweek…
“Direct Travel is fully prepared to work with Air Canada and other airline partners as they develop NDC sourced content, booking strategies and products. We support our GDS partners like Sabre who have announced a multi-year distribution agreement with Air Canada providing full content via NDC channels. We embrace new technologies that enhance our customer’s experience.”
Brian Robertson, President, Canada West for Direct Travel
“Ongoing dialogue surrounding NDCs has been a priority for our Independent by Flight Centre advisors. Currently, they are aware that booking through the AC Agent web allows them to bypass the Distribution Cost Recovery (DCR) fee. However, valuable feedback from many advisors indicates that some customers are willing to pay the surcharge to ensure their bookings remain under the complete management of their chosen travel advisor. FCTG utilizes the Sabre GDS system, so their announcement regarding its distribution agreement with Air Canada will be another booking option available when it is rolled out.”
Heather Baker, National Marketing Manager for Independent brands in Canada for Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG)
“Air Canada has been very open about the transition to NDC and they have put out a lot of information to help the community understand how this new distribution system will work. The reality is it will be a problem for corporate agencies – and we have some of them – they will be stuck with this fee and passing it on to clients as corporate rates can only be done in the GDS. I do believe that many agents use the Air Canada agent portal, and of course there’s no fees using that system. Overall the airlines have to find ways to cut costs and this has been a long time coming, so I really don’t believe there are any surprises for anyone. The problem is that travel agents have been very busy selling travel and this just adds to their workload to get ready and get set up.”
Flemming Friisdahl, founder & CEO, The Travel Agent Next Door