Airline dismisses allegations as an attempt to impede innovation and protect certain travel agencies
American Airlines has issued a response to the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), addressing the organization’s complaint about the airline’s ticket distribution through the New Distribution Capability (NDC). The airline has labeled the complaint as a “frivolous compilation of rhetoric and unsupported allegations,” refuting ASTA’s claims that its actions harm competition and consumers. American Airlines suggests that the complaint is an effort by some travel agencies to hinder innovation due to their reluctance to invest in new technologies.
1: The Background
In July, ASTA filed a complaint with the Department of Transport (DOT), accusing American Airlines of causing higher air ticket prices for consumers by removing over 40% of its fare inventory from traditional booking channels. ASTA argued that this indirectly impacted the ability of travel agents to perform their job effectively. American Airlines responded by stating that NDC is more transparent than older technologies like EDIFACT and that it continues to make all fares viewable and comparable in both EDIFACT and NDC channels. The airline has been at the forefront of distribution strategy changes since 2006, with CEO Robert Isom emphasizing the competitive and consumer-friendly nature of NDC.
2: More Options for Consumers
American Airlines’ response to the DOT highlights the benefits of NDC-enabled transparency for consumers. The airline argues that customers are more satisfied with flexible and responsive NDC-enabled technologies compared to outdated EDIFACT technologies. American Airlines states that there is no evidence to support ASTA’s claim that NDC plans have led to higher prices or fewer options for consumers. The airline points out that customers can still access fares not transactable using EDIFACT through AA.com, meta-search travel sites, or other agencies that have adopted NDC.
3: Lagging in Technology Adoption
American Airlines further argues that its changes to ticket distribution have prompted other U.S. airlines, such as United Airlines, to adopt NDC-based technologies. The airline highlights United Airlines’ efforts, which have resulted in up to 40% of all sales being fares accessible only through its NDC channel. American Airlines questions ASTA’s acceptance of United Airlines’ initiatives while criticizing its own. The airline also asserts that agencies in the United States are lagging in technology adoption, which is detrimental to American consumers.
American Airlines’ response to ASTA’s complaint about ticket distribution through NDC defends its actions as innovative and consumer-friendly. The airline dismisses ASTA’s allegations as an attempt to protect certain agencies rather than safeguarding consumers. American Airlines argues that NDC offers more options and transparency for customers, refuting claims of higher prices or limited choices. The DOT will review the response, potentially shaping the future dynamics of airline distribution and travel agency operations.