Aeroflot and S7 Airlines are granted IATA’s Level 4 NDC certification

In the space of a month, Russia's two biggest airlines have reached new levels in the international airline distribution standard

Aeroflot's online sales will be more customer-friendly

Within a period of one month, Russia’s two major airlines – Aeroflot and S7 Airlines – have both secured IATA’s Level 4 New Distribution Capability (NDC) certificate, which enables them to promote their online sales via agent websites and meta-search engines.

NDC is effectively the new standard for data exchange between airlines and ticket sales agents, which was designed and introduced by IATA with the aim of “transforming the way air products are retailed to customers by addressing the industry’s current distribution limitations.” This generally means that shopping online for airline tickets becomes more efficient, accessible and transparent to travellers. For instance, it helps them avoid annoying complications such as choosing a wrong fare or service as a result of inaccurate or incomplete information on the agency’s website, among other improvements.

“The use of NDC allows online agents to have direct access to the most complete information about the airline’s flights and services in a standardised format,” explains a statement from S7 Airlines, the first Russian airline to reach the Level 4 NDC certification, adding that the fourth level “provides for complete management of offers and orders on the agency side. An additional advantage is the built-in service for efficient communication between airlines and online agents, for example, in the case of scheduling changes.”

Aeroflot, Russia’s flag carrier and an IATA member for three decades, has scaled up from the Level 3 it acquired last year, admitting that “the status has helped to significantly increase” sales.

“One of the main trends in business today is service personalisation. The higher NDC status level will allow Aeroflot to accommodate almost all passenger needs,” insists Vitaly Saveliev, Aeroflot’s chief executive. “Using the latest technologies helps to increase the airline’s customer offering and operational efficiency,” the airline continues, adding that further implementation of the latest IT solutions, including artificial intelligence, is “a key priority of Aeroflot’s strategy through 2023.”

The same benefits for customers are reiterated by Aeroflot’s privately-owned rival S7. “It is important for us to ensure that S7 Airlines’ passengers can conveniently purchase tickets through any channel,” explains Yekaterina Dmitruk, S7 Group’s deputy general director for sales. “If they prefer to make travel plans on the websites of online agencies, our task is to provide all the conditions to make this possible. Several years ago, we developed the S7 Agent API, a special software product for our partners, which was based on IATA NDC standards. When connected to it, online agents get direct access to all S7 Airlines services, including additional options, such as choosing a seat in the cabin, arranging for additional baggage, and more. Obtaining the fourth level NDC certification will allow us to interact with partners even more effectively. In 2020, we intend to obtain the NDC @ Scale, which is the next, highest-level certification,” she concludes.

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