ASTA asks American Airlines to delay new distribution method

ASTA is calling into question whether American Airlines is ready to implement its New Distribution Capability-enabled content next month and has asked the carrier to hold off until the end of the year.

ASTA called AA’s statements about its NDC readiness “exaggerated, with crucial questions unanswered.”

Travel Weekly has reached out to American for comment.

The airline has said that travel agencies not connected to its NDC technology by April will lose access to about 40% of fares. American has said its NDC technology will give customers access to a wider array of content, including promotional offers, branded fares and ancillary services.  

In a statement, ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby said ASTA members met with American twice recently, and that those meetings “confirmed attendees’ fears” regarding the airline’s NDC readiness. 

“It appears that AA has made a strategic decision to forsake short-term profits to achieve a stronger, anticompetitive business position long-term, one secured by denying access to fare inventory,” Kerby said.

Withholding “such a substantial portion of its fares” from travel agencies would negatively impact the public, especially corporate travelers, Kerby said. He argued that a number of travel management companies (TMCs), GDSs and third-party booking technology providers have said they will not be ready for NDC implementation by April.

Jay Richmond, Amadeus’ senior director of global solution consulting said Amadeus-connected travel agencies should be mostly ready to view NDC content by April. He said that onboarding the technology is usually a two- or three-day process. However, he said, agencies have more work to be ready for servicing and settlement. 

ASTA accuses American Airlines of ‘bullying’

Kerby called AA’s move “sudden bullying of valuable distribution partners,” and suggested the Department of Transportation “investigate the consequences of AA’s actions” if its NDC strategy is put into place as planned next month.

“ASTA is cognizant that AA has been working with stakeholders to prepare for the coming changes,” Kerby said. “However, given the scope of this undertaking, it is clear that much more work needs to be done if NDC implementation is to be achieved in a manner that promotes healthy competition and avoids massive disruption to the air ticket distribution ecosystem of which we are all a part.”

Robert Silk contributed to this report.

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