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                             AFTA CEO Update - Tuesday 21 May

I HAD the great pleasure of attending the Hawaiian Airlines 15 years of service to Sydney event yesterday, along with many from across the travel industry and a very big congratulations to the HA team for a great event and celebration.

At every opportunity in the current industry climate when I am talking to senior airline executives, the issue of NDC is raised. As airlines now start to really think about what their strategy might be, how this may benefit them and travel agents and what is a reasonable timetable to implement a change, now is the time to be talking.

For Hawaiian it is clear that its NDC strategy for now is one that ensures travel agents will continue to enjoy access to competitive airfares and services without having to pay for it, and to continue to do this via the technology companies that are already in place with agents.

In a way, one could say Hawaiian has a class-leading NDC strategy, that is to say it will for the immediate future continue to distribute its products and services in the same way as it has for the past 15 years as it provided opportunities to Australians to head abroad via travel agents.

As HA initiates conversations with technology providers it will keep front and centre a clear understanding that it is a destination carrier, with the needs of leisure customers at the core of every decision. For HA, an NDC strategy that serves its customers and enables the carrier’s trade partners will be the right outcome.

The thing about NDC is that it is an enormous undertaking and investment by airlines to make any significant change to the way they distribute products, and the question that I always ask is: will the NDC strategy sell more tickets and make airlines and agents more money?

Sadly, the response is all too often either a “not sure about that” or “that’s not the point of NDC”. So the next question is – what is NDC about then? And there is no common industry-led response to that, as it seems airlines, while using the IATA standard as outlined in resolution 787, will be looking to commercialise and implement their NDC strategy in many different ways.

Importantly for Hawaiian, my view is that it has a great NDC strategy which is easy to understand and no doubt the agency community will embrace it – as in effect, its strategy is to continue to provide access to selling their products in the same way it does today.

With a great deal of exciting changes coming for Hawaiian, with aircraft and products on offer, it is bound to continue to do very well from Australia as the airline is making it easy to do business with it.

Well done HA!