IATA's new partnership approach is flowering in the distribution field, with the association moving on from several years of beating up the global distribution systems to a more collaborative approach in this complex area.
Director general Tony Tyler described yesterday how IATA is "working on new distribution standards to enable airline product differentiation and I am confident that the GDSs will join as partners because progress cannot wait".
After being relatively little involved in this distribution area in previous years, IATA is entering the field following consultation with airline heads of distribution to discuss their key concerns, says Aleks Popovich, IATA senior vice-president, industry distribution and financial services.
The "foundation standards", to be defined by October, will show "how carriers can distribute any product based on price, schedule and availability and any ancillary products around that through any channel - direct, distributor or travel agent", says Popovich.
A workshop in July between airlines, GDSs and others in this field, will discuss the move to this global standard, indicating that the frosty relationship between airlines and GDSs is thawing, says Popovich.
The aim is to put the proposed standards and a roadmap for their implementation to IATA's board in December. Popovich will not commit to a timetable for this standard until then. However, he says "this is going to be an IATA priority, so you can be sure it will have a heck of a lot of momentum".