British Airways to use NDC to deliver its cheapest air fares to European market

British Airways (BA) revealed last week that it will use New Distribution Capability (NDC) technology to deliver new short haul air fares to the market during the first half of 2018. The airline says it will launch more content to the travel trade through NDC, starting initially with these new short haul price points.


  • British Airways (BA) to use New Distribution Capability (NDC) technology to deliver new short haul air fares to the market during the first half of 2018.
  • Adoption of NDC technology follows introduction of surcharge on bookings that are not made using an NDC based connection, or through other low-cost channels, such as the airline’s website, sales offices and call-centres.
  • BA acknowledges that new short haul price points will be first of many new products it expects to provide that are supported by NDC.

BA has been among the leading players in the development of the NDC standard and ahead of this transition has implemented an £8 per leg distribution technology surcharge to bookings made through the GDSs and opened negotiations with more than 50 TMCs to develop NDC connections. “We’ve successfully changed our approach to distribution and the transition has gone incredibly well,” says Adam Daniels, the airline’s chief commercial officer.

The airline has developed a number of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs),a set of XML code which allow developers to access services from another supplier and include them in an application or website they are developing. This offers a direct link into its host reservation system for flight search, booking and ticketing offering more capability than is currently available today.

Instead of schedules, availability and fares coming from various sources as is currently the case, these will be combined and come from one internal system. This will deliver standardised and consistent details about what is available and will enable the airline to distribute previously unavailable products and services to the GDS, for example the ability to add flight ancillaries to bookings made in the GDS.

“The introduction to ancillaries has lead the field and in the first half of 2018 we will be introducing significantly more short-haul price points. The change will enable us to compete more efficiently with other short-haul carriers and offer a wider spread of fares, which will benefit the trade and customers alike,” explains Mr Daniels.

This technology brings customers, agents and airlines benefits in merchandising flexibility and richer content. “We’ve been speaking much more directly to agents about distribution and those two-way conversations mean that we’re able to build new products based on their requirements,” adds Mr Daniels.

The new short haul price products will be available to both the direct and indirect channels. BA says the NDC will support these new products, so it is confident that these new products can be made available to trade partners who have such a connection in place. “We are in discussion with third party technology providers including GDSs about provision of these products, as we want these products to be available widely so that we compete more effectively,” says Mr Daniels.

BA acknowledges that this is the first of many new products it expects to provide that are supported by NDC. The airline is working to give agents more options, including a direct NDC connection, access to NDC via the GDSs or through technology providers such as Travelfusion or Hitchhiker, which already deliver airline content to a large number of agents.

Agents that adopt an NDC connection will have access to all the airline’s inventory, including discounted leisure and corporate fares. They can also service bookings, by holding them, paying at a later date, cancelling and amending an itinerary, adding ancillaries, pre-booking additional luggage, adding Executive Club and On Business numbers to enable tracking and paying British Airways via IATA’s Billing and Settlement Plan. They can also advise the airline of catering requests for pre-order meals in Club World and First, pre-paid meals in World Traveller and World Traveller Plus or special meal orders.

This will be delivered via BA’s Shop and Order APIs, which currently include:

  • Air Shopping – allows users to search for availability and pricing (flight search);
  • Flight Price – validates a price quote and provides payment options (final quote);
  • Seat availability – allows users to access a priced seat map (seat selection);
  • Order Create – completes the booking, accepts payments, issues the ticket and where fares allow Ticketing Time Limit, the booking can be held;
  • Order Retrieve – allows users to retrieve and view details of existing bookings;
  • Order Change – processes and confirms requested booking changes, where entitled seats can be held for 24 hours and paid for within the time limit;
  • ItinReshop – Returns refund quote prior to booking cancellation, requotes a held booking with the latest fares and taxes and allows flight search and final quote for changing itinerary of a booking;
  • OrderCancel – cancels a booking and triggers refund process if applicable;
  • ServiceList – Returns optional services with prices available; special meals, add executive club card number, book special assistance and other services;
  • AirDocIssue – Processes payment and issues the ticket for a held booking as per ticketing time limit.