Ai Editorial: How IATA's NDC is starting to shape up

Dealing with schemas to give shape to IATA’s NDC initiative  

Ai Editorial: Standard development is the core to the entire NDC initiative. Ritesh Gupta assesses how changes continue to take place in “end-to-end” schemas to combat issues

Is the concept of ticketing on its way out? As we move into the era of XML based concept of travelling, it looks like the industry is drifting away from ticketing and associated “multiple coupons”.  

So how are changes in coding or schemas set to drive it?

This fascinating aspect lured me into finding out how executives representing different entities, including ones from airlines, are currently working on it. Working out a new technology communication standard for the distribution of air travel is riddled with challenges.

The first version of “end-to-end” schemas has already been published, but the work is being done on an ongoing basis.

Changing a schema

Issues are being discussed on an ongoing basis by a relevant IATA working group related to the management of schemas. For instance, one of the recent ones was related to a business rule document titled “Interline Flight Shopping and Order Management”.

Before we delve deeper into the details, it needs to be understood that the NDC Shopping schemas would allow airlines to distribute their full product offers and to merchandize their seats, baggage etc. And the NDC Order Management schemas are responsible for managing NDC-driven orders, from booking to fulfilment. As for the offers, they can be crafted as per the current status of a supplier’s inventory, instead of those based upon previously filed products (i.e. dynamic and personalized offers become possible). It also paves way for airlines to directly manage other aspects of the indirect distribution process.

Responsible group

As for the concerned group, the business and technical requirements are being met by the Distribution Data Exchange Working Group (DDXWG). It has been set up by the Passenger Distribution Group (PDG).

The main objective of this group is to document detailed business requirements and develop implementation guidance for data exchange standards in the area of airline distribution, and maintain such documentation on an on-going basis to ensure that the data exchange standards continue to reflect the industry’s business requirements.

“The group acts within the scope set by the PDG, acting as the authoritative source of the industry’s business requirements in the area of airline distribution, and under the methodological guidance of the PADIS Board responsible for the maintenance of all IATA XML and EDIFACT data exchange standards in the passenger services area,” shared a source.

“We can’t specify the number of issues (to be sorted out at this juncture), but yes the core objective is to streamline the process for all the stakeholders. From the moment a request comes in from an agency to the point the offer is tailored as per the request, it has to be ensured that the offer not only matches the intent of the buyer, but also meets the interests of the parties,” explained the source.


“We need to assess the business requirement, and ensure technical changes don’t affect any other part of the standard – technically or from standard rules perspective,” shared the source.

Making changes

So coming back to the scope of the change in schema related to “Interline Flight Shopping and Order Management”, it emerged that when an order features Offer Responsible Airline (ORA) and Product Offering Airline (POA), then there should be a place holder to contain OrderID and OrderItemID of both ORA and POA. And this called for a new structure.

As to what called for a change in coding, we need to understand that theoretically, the number of suppliers in an offer and eventually an order could be numerous. But there is no need to highlight the arrangement between the parties whenever an agency is receives an offer (So if two airlines or any two suppliers come together to respond to a request, it doesn’t call for detailing the commercial dealing of the parties involved).  And the current structure didn’t reflect this, it called for a change in coding.

Issue: The OrderItemID should only go to the offer responsible airline, but not back to the travel agency or the corporate agency. There is no need to show the commercial agreement or the details (mainly pricing) of each item within the OfferItemID to the buyer. So these are the sort of the issues that are being addressed.

And the work is being done by the group on an ongoing basis.