Sharing my NDC Thoughts

Following my latest thoughts on NDC and OneOrder.

I’m very supportive of IATA’s work to establish a standard. But I do have some reservations on how it is done and the impact of what the industry wants to achieve now and in the future. I’ve been following NDC and OneOrder for the last 4 years and I’m advising startups which consume these schemas (following industry standards is always a good thing to do).

So let’s start with some of my observations – as always, open for discussion and challenges:

NDC and OneOrder Schemas are based on XML. With most modern solutions now using REST JSON APIs, having old XML schemas in between isn’t really the best way forward as we need to translate JSON from/to XML. Maybe instead of pushing new versions of an old design, why not freeze it here and use time and resources to get a proper JSON implementation out – the longer it takes the more complex it will be and the more likely it will not succeed. Maybe a good start would be to stop OneOrder XML schemas and focus on JSON right away. My advise: don’t continue with extending an architecture that will not survive but keep what you have and make it solid. In parallel, focus on JSON to take us into the future.

NDC is not yet a reasonable solution (or actually a distribution channel enhancement) for most airlines, coz they don’t have the data available to provide rich content. While NDC plays a very important role as a new industry wide standard, the bigger issue here is the investments all the airlines have to burden to get the proper (and the rich) data available and maintained properly.

Looking at IATA and Non-IATA members, my assumption is that only the big players can afford to run such projects and the smaller carriers are left out. Just implementing NDC on top of a traditional legacy PSS doesn’t make sense, coz these systems have existing APIs (some based on OTA schemas) in place and have connections with all the GDS and most of the OTAs and intermediaries such as TravelFusion. These APIs already allow third-parties to book flights and ancillary services – they are just not in line with the NDC schemas. Besides that, there are no new distribution channels in the market yet which would require smaller carriers to act.

My conclusion: for tier 2 providers and tier 3 to 4 airlines (even some of the tier 2) – I don’t see a need to invest time and resources yet, but rather wait until IATA publishes a state-of-the-art REST JSON API standard – and of course observe what the big players and the GDS are doing with the current NDC standards. Anything else is just a new wrapper based on old technology around an existing solution, but without actual consumers of the interface.