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July 17 2024 / 02:24 PM
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Air Canada
Air Canada's best seat inventory and discounted ancillary pricing available via NDC

Photo: Lisa Pierce, VP, Global Sales for Air Canada and ACV and Vincent Gauthier-Doré, Managing Director of Canada & USA Sales

 

Time flies for just about everything these days – and that includes Air Canada’s NDC rollout.

It’s now been a year since the Air Canada went all-in with IATA’s New Distribution Capability initiative (NDC), one that’s been adopted by scores of airlines around the world.

When it rolled out on June 14, 2023, Air Canada’s best available seat inventory and discounted ancillary pricing became available via NDC, in addition to the carrier’s domestic Basic fares already in the system.

Over the past 12 months Air Canada has implemented NDC in eight different technology platforms, including Amadeus, and executed three new GDS distribution agreements, all incorporating support for NDC. One of those agreements, with Sabre, was announced June 13, 2023.

Lisa Pierce, VP, Global Sales for Air Canada and ACV, tells Travelweek that a more robust agreement between Air Canada and Sabre is “imminent” and notes it will provide access for the vast majority of Air Canada’s travel trade partners to a production-ready Air Canada NDC solution.

This morning Travelweek connected with Pierce, and also with Vincent Gauthier-Doré, Air Canada’s Managing Director of Canada & USA Sales.

The interview focused on Air Canada’s NDC successes over the past year – and one very big change that just came.

 

“We’ve accomplished a lot”

Looking back on this first year, Pierce tells Travelweek she’s very happy with the NDC rollout so far. “We’ve accomplished a lot and we’re very happy to see it evolving. Looking at it from the perspective of our relationships with our trade partners, we’re very happy.

She adds: “More than 20% of Canadian agencies have adopted NDC. That’s great and we’d like to see that grow.

Worldwide, Air Canada has significantly expanded the reach of its NDC offering, enabling NDC in 20 different country points-of-sale, representing 96% of Air Canada’s global ticket volume, with plans to further expand this month. Another stat: over 70% of all Air Canada bookings now use modern technologies.

Meanwhile more than 600 agencies globally are now actively using Air Canada’s NDC. That’s a big metric for how the airline charts the rollout’s progress, says Pierce.

That’s our measure of success,” she says. “Our goal with NDC is two-fold. One, for travel agencies to adopt NDC. Two, for agencies to use it at scale. Not just trying NDC out a few times, but actively using it all the time.

That said, the system “needs to make sense for every agency,” as Pierce notes. “For some it’s working perfectly and for others we’re working to understand their needs. It’s all about how the pieces of the puzzle fit together and finding ways to make that work is one of our top priorities. We’re meeting them where they are. Our team has gone in-person to find solutions, and that personal interaction has been one of the high points.

Air Canada has 100+ partner meetings globally over this first year, to engage with the agency/technology community.

Pierce says agency feedback has been a driving force in the development of 25+ new features and capabilities.

One of those tweaks to the system was Order Change Notifications, essentially a heads up for changes on either end of the transaction, either from Air Canada or the client. “Any change whatsoever,” says Pierce. “It’s so that no one has to proactively go into the system to check for updates.

 

Changes to distribution cost recovery (DCR) policy 

So what’s the big change that came?

Air Canada’s Distribution Cost Recovery (DCR) fee has now been simplified to apply only to the lowest fares booked in each cabin.

Pierce and Gauthier-Doré say that means G, K, A and P class bookings.

The DCR was first announced at the launch in June 2023. Pegged at $20 – $30, the fee aims to address the high expense of legacy models of fare distribution, and applies to 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 DCR is integrated into the fare and paid by the customer.

That was the stick, and there was also a carrot, as in June 2023 Air Canada also introduced an NDC coupon incentive, to support travel agency transition to NDC – and away from GDS EDIFACT channels.

Speaking to the DCR policy change in effect starting, with the fee now applied only for the lowest booking classes, Pierce had this to say: “It’s much more targeted this way. The decision was based in part on feedback from agencies. It’s also a different market out there compared to a year ago. There’s more competition. We’re being sensitive to market conditions.

 

Coming uo for 2024 and beyond 

In addition to the DCR fee change, and access to Air Canada content and features through Sabre NDC in the coming weeks, here are a few more new features and planned advancements for 2024 …

  • More generous refund capabilities: The airline will be doubling the risk-free refund period from 24 to 48 hours for bookings made using NDC, providing travel partners and passengers with greater flexibility. Development of this feature is underway and will be available in the coming months.
  • Continuous Pricing and Availability: Continuous availability is now live to all partners integrated with Air Canada NDC, offering greater access to the best prices, and in late 2024, the airline will begin offering continuous pricing for better, more dynamic price points. “Combining enhanced availability with continuous pricing, that’s a big benefit for agencies,” Gauthier-Doré tells Travelweek.
  • Special benefits for corporate partners: NDC functionality creates additional ticketing flexibility for agency and corporate partners.

In the next 12 months, Air Canada’s travel partners can also expect more new content and additional features from Air Canada that include: support for disrupted customers, new features for the handling of Involuntary Changes; the ability to apply unused tickets for future travel; and more payment options for international markets; followed by Cancel for Any Reason; and carbon offset content, both of which are planned for roll-out in early 2025.

The airline also offers dedicated Sales support for managed accounts, personalized support and hosts partner workshops.

The airline offers four connection paths to NDC with dozens of technology solution providers. All of that information can be found at Air Canada’s multilingual NDC hub.

 

Source: Travelweek

Jun 18, 2024

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