Blog post

New Distribution Capability Explained



New Distribution Capability Explained

In this blog we take a closer look at New Distribution Capability, what it involves, and how Orbit clients will benefit from its implementation.



Like any other large global industry, the travel sector has a complex distribution chain involving multiple businesses across multiple sectors. Not only are there a vast range of airlines, accommodation and land transport providers, there are also the leisure and corporate retailers, service infrastructure companies like airports, Government agencies, and travel technology companies. All these organisations work to move well over a billion travellers around the world annually and technology is at the heart of every transaction.

All suppliers in the travel sector use technology to distribute their content and like other industries, the primary method is through APIs (application program interfaces). In simple terms, an API is software that allows two applications to talk to each other.

Globally, most airlines, hotel chains and car rental companies distribute their content via one of the three global distribution systems (GDS) Amadeus, Sabre or Travelport - Orbit has had a strong partnership with Amadeus for over 15 years. The GDS also acts as an intermediary in the travel supply chain, connecting to all suppliers and aggregating the content into one, unified place for travel companies to connect to. Orbit accesses this travel content from Amadeus through their consultant interface and APIs to quickly and efficiently provide travel quotes to their clients and make bookings.


A brief explanation of NDC

For many years airlines have been wanting to differentiate their products and services and IATA (International Airline and Transport Association) has worked with the Airlines to develop new standards. This is one of the biggest developments in the travel industry in recent years and the programme is called New Distribution Capability or NDC. You might already have read about NDC with Orbit announcing a partnership with Amadeus to join their NDC-X programme late last year.

NDC is the global IATA standard that airlines will adopt to help differentiate their content and allow them to provide personalisation. As explained by IATA, NDC will enable the travel industry to transform the way air products are retailed to corporations, leisure and business travellers, by addressing the industry’s current distribution limitations.


So, what is the problem NDC solves?

Today, airlines are offering a wide variety of products and services on their websites to appeal to the business traveller – early boarding, preferred seating, a day pass for an airline lounge - just to name a few. But the existing GDS platforms that distribute airline content may not be able to present the full range of airline products and services on offer. In addition, airlines cannot customise the offer based on who is making the request - so the ability to personalise travel options is limited.

NDC provides new technical standards that will be adopted by the airlines, GDSs and travel technology companies to allow travel companies like Orbit to easily access this new personalised airline content for our customers. IATA’s aim is to have 20 of the world’s top airlines participating in the NDC programme and distributing at least 20% of their content via NDC by 2020.


How will Orbit implement NDC?

As part of the NDC-X program, Amadeus is working with airlines to deliver NDC content to travel management companies, like Orbit. This will allow Orbit to book NDC content alongside other travel content, enabling greater personalisation for travellers. NDC could also bring richer content at the time of booking such as more images, information, videos, traveller reviews and bundles of services.

In a nutshell, accessing NDC content alongside other travel content on one single platform will allow Orbit to serve our customers more simply, quickly and accurately, which helps organisations be more efficient with their travel management programme. From a traveller’s perspective, NDC will enable Orbit to offer more personalised trips which leads to a better travel experience.

Amadeus is currently evolving their platform to bring together all relevant content – including air, hotel, car, and insurance – from any source to be distributed via any channel or device, allowing comparisons and bookings to happen in a uniform and transparent way. From there, Orbit will work with Amadeus to re-engineer our travel solutions via the Amadeus Travel Platform to integrate NDC content, enabling Orbit clients to access the benefits that NDC brings.

To find out more about IATA's New Distribution Capability Programme, please visit