Amadeus put together a new unit focused on IATA’s New Distribution Capability. Called NDC-X, it’s led by Amadeus VP Gianni Pisanello.

“We have been involved in NDC for quite some time,” Pisanello said. “We were the first to bring NDC into production in 2014, with United Airlines. We were waiting for a certain maturity in the market and for agencies and airlines to start investing more seriously in this area.”

For Amadeus, last year was about “defining the best approach around NDC,” he added. “We decided to better organize ourselves internally.”

Gianni Pisanello, Amadeus
Gianni Pisanello, vice president of the NDC-X program at Amadeus IT Group

The NDC-X program is about “all things NDC at Amadeus — as an IT provider and as an aggregator.” The idea, Pisanello said, is to help airlines and travel agencies move through NDC’s evolution by enabling dynamic pricing, merchandizing and cloud services.

He didn’t provide other details about the group, including the size of the team.

NDC testing at Amadeus is starting with online travel agencies. “It is straightforward for them to adopt,” Pisanello said, “because the typical OTA flow is similar to the NDC flow: shop, order and pay.” He expected that “first level of the solution” to be ready for global deployment by the first quarter of 2019.

By then, Amadeus would start involving corporate travel management companies. The GDS environment, he said, is “more flexible and granular in what you can do. You can build offers in different ways.”

But corporate travel also can be very complex. There are client travel policies, preferred airline agreements and many back-office processes to consider, including reporting and duty of care requirements. “At the moment all that is hard to replicate in NDC,” Pisanello acknowledged. Initially, he suggested, NDC could be used for simple itineraries, leaving the more complicated ones in the traditional GDS process.

Rival GDS operator Travelport on Tuesday announced plans to deliver NDC capabilities starting in the second half of this year. For agency subscribers, Travelport at the point of sale would combine “NDC-enabled content alongside the GDS workflow” within the Smartpoint desktop system. A “fully integrated search, book and manage function” would follow “shortly afterwards.”

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