As 2020 fades further into the rearview mirror, NDC remains a priority for Sabre as we look toward travel recovery in 2021 and beyond. We continue to be well-positioned, as both an aggregator and airline IT provider, to help airlines, agencies and corporations access and distribute increasingly personalized content. NDC is one of the building blocks we are putting in place to create the leading marketplace for personalized travel. As IATA forecasts a progressive recovery for travel starting later this year, we will continue to partner with customers and pace with industry demand.
Maximizing access to leading content
Our 2020 announcements about Sabre Travel AI ™ and its first application, Sabre Smart Retail Engine ™, combined with the forthcoming launch of the new airline storefront and our NDC efforts, illustrate how Sabre is developing scalable retailing, distribution and fulfillment solutions. Deploying NDC capabilities through our Offer and Order APIs, agency POS Sabre Red 360, and our online corporate booking tool, GetThere, ensures that our customers will be able to distribute the kind of tailored offers that travelers want. Rich content and offer bundles are not useful if travel sellers and travelers cannot access them. NDC ensures a consistent distribution experience, regardless of channel.
Sabre as an aggregator
Content, capabilities and coverage are three pillars that we focus on to enable scalability and remove technical barriers to NDC adoption. This year, we are integrating additional airlines, broadening market coverage and deploying new capabilities to support bookings across end-to-end workflows.
While we progress discussions with more than 30 airlines about distributing NDC offers through the Sabre GDS, we want to highlight a few recent advancements:
- Singapore Airlines: We announced broader access to NDC offers from Singapore Airlines through the Sabre GDS in more than 25 markets across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Agencies and developers participating in Singapore’s KrisConnect program can access NDC content via the Sabre Offer and Order APIs and Sabre Red 360.
Additionally, we deployed the servicing capabilities of void, refund and exchange for customers accessing Singapore’s NDC content through Sabre. Servicing has always been critical for agencies in terms of driving NDC adoption. The uncertainty stemming from COVID-19 has only underscored the importance of servicing capabilities as travel regulations fluctuate and travelers’ plans remain fluid.
- Qantas Airways: Working shoulder-to-shoulder with Qantas, we recently launched the airline’s NDC offers through the Sabre GDS in Australia and New Zealand. We will expand our market footprint during 2021 and beyond. Qantas Channel-participating agencies can shop by frequent flier number for single and multi-passenger itineraries, as well as price, book, pay, cancel, void, refund and exchange NDC bookings from Qantas.
These recent deliveries are representative of our robust roadmap. The balance of 2021 will include the following highlights:
- Lufthansa Group: following our announcement of a new commercial agreement with the Lufthansa Group, we are actively working toward making their NDC offers available through the Sabre GDS in select markets during the second half of 2021.
- Finnair: In parallel to our work with Lufthansa Group, we are also expanding our European footprint by pursuing a pilot with Beyond NDC partner, Finnair. Following the pilot, we will expand access to the airline’s NDC offers during the second half of 2021.
- The production pilots in the US point of sale with Beyond NDC partners, American Airlines and United Airlines, continue. Together, we are working toward making their NDC content more broadly available in the coming months.
- Sabre’s online corporate booking tool, GetThere, is conducting a production pilot of NDC offers. Companies engaged in the pilot can shop and book NDC offers from airlines integrated through the Offer and Order APIs. NDC bookings made in GetThere can be fulfilled and ticketed through Sabre Red 360.
Sabre as an airline IT provider
SabreSonic passenger service system (PSS) customers can also look forward to the deployment of additional capabilities this year. Our development efforts have progressed to a point where we are now certified as NDC Capable Level 4 as an airline IT provider by IATA. We look forward to working with our launch partner, Belavia-Belarusian Airlines as they pursue their own NDC Level 4 certification.
In addition to the current prime booking flow (i.e., shop, price, book, pay and cancel pre-fulfillment), this year we will activate the servicing capabilities of void, refund and exchange for airline IT customers. Those customers will also be able to select and purchase seats. We look forward to progressing conversations and having additional airlines adopt our Offer and Order APIs to power their personalized content.
The view ahead
As we’ve said before, NDC is a marathon, not a sprint. It is also a collaborative effort. While strong partnership between Sabre and our customers has always been a hallmark of the Beyond NDC program, its importance and power has become even clearer in the current environment. By engaging agencies, corporations and other travel industry stakeholders in pilot programs and customer advisory board (CAB) meetings, we gather important feedback to optimize our solutions.
“2020 was a year like no other,” noted Sabre Vice President of Offer Sourcing, Kathy Morgan. “I’m proud of our team for the great progress we made despite so much uncertainty. Our announcements about the partnership with Google and Sabre Travel AI ™ are truly exciting. They expand our opportunities to advance personalized retailing. NDC is an important enabler of that vision. I am excited about what we have in store for 2021 and look forward to continued collaboration with our partners.”
While the NDC standards continue to mature, we remain actively engaged in industry forums about NDC, such as a variety of IATA working groups. By bringing insights and feedback from our testing efforts to the “collective table,” we can advance thinking in a way that benefits the entire travel community. Together, we will continue to develop scalable solutions that help maximize the opportunities NDC can unlock across the travel value chain.