Airlink will begin introducing new distribution capabilities (NDC) in its transactions with the travel trade from 31 July 2024.

The transition and implementation of NDC (version 21.3) follows over a year’s work by Airlink’s commercial department to refine and enhance the airline’s distribution capabilities so they remain relevant and in-step with global industry distribution advances.

The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) NDC enhances the way airlines and trade partners interact and enables travel content to be presented in a richer format designed for better shopping, booking and upsell opportunities for agents.

NDC has been introduced to replace the 1980’s-designed Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT) protocol.

“By introducing NDC, Airlink and its industry partners can start taking advantage of the way airlines content is made available. Importantly, this allows us to reduce costs while also enhancing our competitiveness,” says Rodger Foster, CEO and MD of Airlink.

“The introduction of IATA NDC by Airlink will provide our partner agents with an unparalleled level of service and access to richer content. Partner agents can seamlessly service their bookings, manage ancillary services, provide real-time updates, and resolve customer inquiries promptly,” adds Foster.

“Ultimately, this is about ensuring Airlink remains abreast of industry best practices while strengthening long-term sustainability and providing significantly-enhanced benefits for our trade partners and joint customers,” he says.

Airlink worked with Thomalex to develop and test its NDC offering. Airlink has extended this relationship and appointed Thomalex as its initial NDC aggregator partner. However, to extend Airlink’s global reach via NDC, it will continually assess additional connectivity solutions and partners that could be onboarded going forward.

For continuity, all Airlink published fares currently available to the travel trade will remain in the traditional GDS EDIFACT channel and will not be removed. However, trade partners will need to transition to NDC to take advantage of additional content and preferential terms on all Airlink sectors purchased and travelled in C, J, Y, K and H classes between 31 July 2024 – 30 July 2026.

In addition, from 31 July 2024, a partial distribution cost recovery charge will be applied to agents using the traditional EDIFACT channel for domestic, regional and global distribution markets.