Air Canada marks NDC anniversary, looks to future plans

Air Canada is marking the one-year anniversary of its New Distribution Capability (NDC) program, announcing additional features and benefits, along with plans for further expansion of the program.

Over the past year, Air Canada’s NDC program – which launched in June 2023 -has made significant progress with trade partners and corporate buyers, in modernizing the airline’s product distribution, offering new benefits, more content and comprehensive partner support.

Mark Nasr, executive vice president, marketing & digital and president of Aeroplan at Air Canada, said: “We’re incredibly grateful for the partnership from local independent agencies and larger corporate travel management companies who were, are, and will always be crucial to Air Canada’s commercial success.”

Nasr continued: “We made a commitment from the outset to provide a steady transition for them, prioritizing comprehensive content and uninterrupted capabilities through both legacy and new technology, enabling the trade to connect with Air Canada using their preferred methods. We also committed to close collaboration throughout the transition process.”

And he added: “This partnership approach is now bearing fruit, and the agency and travel buyer communities are actively shaping the future of Air Canada’s NDC program. We continue to invest in accelerating adoption and building out a wider range of NDC features and products.”

During the past 12 months Air Canada has delivered the following NDC milestones:

  • Executed three new GDS distribution agreements, all incorporating support for NDC
  • Developed 25+ new features and capabilities directly based on agency feedback
  • Implemented NDC in eight different technology platforms, including Amadeus
  • Over 600 agencies actively booking using Air Canada NDC
  • Hosted 100+ partner meetings globally to engage with the agency/technology community
  • Significantly expanded reach, enabling NDC in 20 different country points-of-sale, representing 96% of Air Canada’s global ticket volume, with plans to further expand this month
  • Over 70% of all Air Canada bookings now use modern technologies

Air Canada reports that today, its NDC program offers comprehensive product depth, including discounted ancillary seat pricing, access to promotional code offers, and all domestic basic fares. It has also increased self-servicing and post-servicing capabilities, while expanding payment options and adding new partnerships with technology platform providers that extend global reach.

Air Canada has also signed new agreements with GDS partners Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport in 2023, with Amadeus successfully enabled last year and others to follow soon.

Lisa M. Pierce, vice president, global sales & Air Canada Vacations at Air Canada, said: “We’re excited about the progress we’ve made alongside our valued partners. Our early adopters have provided important feedback that is shaping our expansion plans, adding strength as we move into the second year of transition.”

Pierce continued: “The result is that the wheel of change can now turn much faster, giving us momentum to drive this next stage of growth for our travel partner community and our shared customers.”

Looking ahead, Air Canada has a number of new features and advancements planned for 2024 and beyond, including:

  • The launch of Sabre NDC: Access to Air Canada content and features through Sabre will be available in the coming weeks, thus providing access for the vast majority of our travel trade partners to a production-ready Air Canada NDC solution.
  • Simplified Distribution Cost Recovery: The DCR has now been simplified to apply only to lowest fares booked in each cabin.
  • More generous refund capabilities: The airline will be doubling the risk-free refund period from 24 to 48 hours for bookings made using NDC, providing our travel partners and our customers with greater flexibility. Development of this feature is underway and will be available in the coming months.
  • Continuous Pricing and Availability: Continuous availability is now live to all partners integrated with Air Canada NDC, offering greater access to our best prices, and in late 2024, we will begin offering continuous pricing for better, more dynamic price points.
  • Special benefits for corporate partners: NDC functionality creates additional ticketing flexibility for agency and corporate partners.

Travel partners can also expect more new content and additional features from Air Canada in the next 12 months, including: support for disrupted customers, new features for the handling of Involuntary Changes; the ability to apply unused tickets for future travel; and more payment options for international markets; followed by Cancel for Any Reason; and carbon offset content, both of which are planned for roll-out in early 2025.

Air Canada also makes it clear that it’s dedicated to collaborating with and supporting its partners during the industry-wide transition to NDC. The airline continues to prioritize partner choice and needs, offering four connection paths to NDC with dozens of technology solution providers.

Recognizing the diversity of its partner community, Air Canada is committed to making NDC adoption accessible for all, integrating additional tools, and transparently sharing progress.

The airline also offers dedicated Sales support for managed accounts, personalized support, hosts partner workshops, and maintains a multilingual NDC hub, while continuing to invest in additional support tools.

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