New Distribution Capability (NDC)

a definitive guide

What is NDC and how can you take advantage of it?


In the midst of an ever-shifting digital landscape, it is crucial for industries to stay switched on to new trends. Refusing to change in step with technological advancements and the evolving consumer expectations that come with it, you risk alienating your customers and ceding ground to more forward-thinking competitors. This is especially true for those in the travel industry.

One of the biggest shakeups in the travel tech scene was introduced in October 2012. The New Distribution Capability (NDC) was developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to revolutionise the way in which air travel content was distributed and purchased. No longer did travellers and travel agents have to trawl through innumerable sources to find the air products they were looking for – NDC allowed deals to be presented on indirect channels with unprecedented ease.

In this blog post, we will explore the advantages of adopting NDC and how you can use it to stay ahead of the travel tech curve.

Young woman in black coat looking at the depature boards at an airport with a yellow roller case

Enhanced Traveller Experience


NDC puts the traveller at the centre of the distribution process. By providing access to a wider range of content, including ancillary services, seat selection, and personalized offers, NDC empowers travellers to tailor their journey according to their preferences.

This flexibility also includes the ability to identify a frequent flyer or loyalty programme member and pass this information onto the airline in return for a personalised offer – whether this be a cheaper fare or free or discounted ancillaries.


Percentage of fares on routes flown by NDC airlines - a third of what we sell is cheaper than a traditional TMC

Richer Content


Traditionally, travel agents rely on Global Distribution Systems (GDS) to access airline content. However, these systems often have limitations in terms of the breadth and accuracy of the information provided. NDC addresses this issue by offering richer, more detailed content directly from the airlines.

This means travel agents can access real-time data, including live flight availability, fares, and ancillary services, ensuring accurate and up-to-date information for their customers. Consequently, travellers can make more informed decisions, leading to improved satisfaction and reduced booking errors.

Average saving of short-haul NDC fares versus Non-NDC fares on flexible tickets
Young businesswoman talking on the ohone while sitting on a train
Young woman at call centre on the phone to a customer

Increased Choice


NDC enables airlines to showcase their offerings and differentiated services more effectively. By providing access to their full range of products and ancillary services, airlines can differentiate themselves from competitors and highlight their unique value propositions.

This transparency gives travellers a broader choice, allowing them to explore and select the options that best align with their preferences and budget. Ultimately, NDC fosters healthy competition, driving airlines to innovate and deliver more compelling offers to attract customers.

The number of years ago Gray Dawes adopted NDC, becoming early adopters of the standard

TRAVEL TALKS | Episode 7 Content is King

Watch Webinar on-demand

In our latest Travel Talks webinar, Gray Dawes CCO Warren Dix, COO Dave Bishop and special client guest Leanne Wilby from Games Global look at the importance of NDC and getting great content in your corporate travel programme.

Personalised Offers


With NDC, airlines can leverage data and analytics to create personalized offers based on travellers’ preferences, travel history, and loyalty status.

This targeted approach enables airlines to offer relevant ancillary services, such as seat upgrades, additional baggage, or priority boarding, tailored to individual passengers. By receiving personalized offers at the right moment in the booking process, travellers can easily select preferred ancillaries to enhance their overall travel experience.

Average saving of a short-haul NDC fare versus a non-NDC fare
An Asian male is using a digital wallet in his phone to pay for his subway commute ticket
Young woman at call centre on the phone to a customer

Seamless Integration


NDC offers a standardized, XML-based messaging protocol that facilitates seamless integration between airlines, travel management companies (TMCs) travel agents, and other travel service providers.

This interoperability ensures efficient communication and connectivity across the travel ecosystem. With NDC, airlines can directly distribute their content to various sales channels, including TMCs, online travel agencies (OTAs), metasearch engines, and corporate booking tools. This streamlined connectivity reduces distribution costs, limits intermediaries, and enables faster time-to-market for new products and services.

Average saving on short-haul NDC fares versus non-NDC fares on restricted tickets

In Summary


The New Distribution Capability (NDC) represents a game-changer for the travel industry. Its benefits extend to all stakeholders involved, from airlines and TMCs to the ultimate beneficiaries: the travellers. NDC’s customer-centric approach, enriched content, personalization, increased transparency, and seamless connectivity are transforming the way travel is distributed and purchased.

By embracing NDC, the travel industry is embracing a future of enhanced customer experiences, greater choice, and increased efficiency. As NDC continues to evolve and gain wider adoption, its impact will undoubtedly shape the way TMCs do business.


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