Delta, Virgin Atlantic to Become First Airline Partnership to Achieve NDC Standard 18.1, Lead Retail Transformation
Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines are on track to become the first global airline partnership to achieve Level 3 Certification on the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) New Distribution Capability (NDC), standard 18.1. Virgin has already achieved Level 3 Certification, and Delta expects to do the same in the next month. This will allow the airlines to facilitate the distribution of industry-leading products that give customers more choice and a richer shopping experience.
Both carriers are currently conducting pilots – and a number of industry partners are expected to be announced in the coming months.
Delta and Virgin share a distribution vision to enable consistent retail experiences for customers, regardless of booking channel. NDC is an important building block in achieving this vision by bringing simplification and alignment across all channels to provide a single source for schedules, fares and availability, while laying a foundation for delivering more diverse offerings that will meet the needs of every customer.
While NDC represents an important step, an additional, parallel effort is under way to elevate the third-party retail experience so it aligns with carrier direct channels. The airlines and their airline partners are leading this transformation too, by collaborating with global agencies, online booking tools and industry intermediaries to transform third-party shopping displays and present customers with a full range of products to choose from, rather than a single fare.
“Our customers have been clear about the retail experiences they expect,” said Rhonda Crawford, Delta’s Vice President - Global Distribution and Digital Strategy. “They want the same experience when shopping for an airline ticket as they have when shopping for anything else – meaning no distribution surcharges and more choices with better information everywhere they shop. We’ve delivered that experience in our direct channels, and continue working diligently with industry partners to bring that same experience to third-party channels.”
David Geer, Senior Vice President - Revenue Management, Digital and Distribution at Virgin Atlantic, added, “NDC is an important component of our distribution strategy and I’m delighted that Virgin Atlantic and Delta are playing vital roles in this development. We’ve seen a step change in the amount of product choice over the last few years, along with a significant improvement in booking experiences. However, it’s clear these offerings are not always reflected across all booking channels.
“We’re committed to ensuring that everyone can access a single source of information, anywhere and anytime, and get the full booking experience, regardless of the channel they choose. NDC provides a foundation for us to achieve this, and we are collaborating with others in the industry to complete the work of improving customer-facing displays. We’re always seeking to improve our customer’s experience across all our distribution channels and we’ll continue to engage with our agency partners, corporate stakeholders and technology companies as it rolls out.”
“Over and over again, our customers request choice,” added Bob Somers, Delta's Senior Vice President - Global Sales. “This step is a powerful example of how we continue to collaborate with our customers and partners to drive innovation and lead the industry for everyone’s benefit.”
Yanik Hoyles, Director - NDC Program at IATA, said, “Congratulations to Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines, who will soon become the first airline partnership to achieve Level 3 certification on NDC 18.1, the latest NDC standard. Together, these airlines are demonstrating their leading commitment to bring greater visibility and access to their products and services in all shopping channels.”