Before COVID-19, Iata’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) was a popular topic of discussion, with airlines and technology companies releasing weekly news and updates on its progress.

Now, the buzz around the new XML-based data transmission standard has quietened as companies grapple to survive the impact the pandemic has had on travel.

However, industry players believe NDC implementation deadlines will be pushed forward to help reduce distribution costs.

Speaking during a recent webinar hosted by the African Business Travel Association (ABTA), FlySafair head of sales and distribution, Kirby Gordon, said the issue around distribution costs was key to survival because there was a steep hill to recovery ahead and distribution would not be spared.

“There will be an impact across the distribution space. More direct forms of distribution will be favoured and even corporates will push for this. I believe we will see more airlines opening up to the NDC and it will be prioritised.”

Aviation specialist, Brian Kitchin, said South Africa was on the verge of more NDC roll-outs prior to COVID-19. “Airlines are going to have different price points available only via NDC. The standard is designed to reduce cost so it will be a no-brainer that airlines will drive it harder. Once a few TMCs adopt it, others will follow fast because there will be price savings.”

Jo-Anne Lloyd, partner at Nina & Pinta, agreed that airlines were not changing strategies to implement the NDC and there were no signs of slowing down.