UPDATE: This report was revised on the evening of March 8 with a response by American Airlines and on March 9 with a comment by Travelport's CEO.
ASTA is calling into question whether American Airlines is ready to implement its New Distribution Capability-enabled content next month and has asked the carrier to hold off until the end of the year.
ASTA called AA's statements about its NDC readiness "exaggerated, with crucial questions unanswered."
An American spokesperson pushed back against the allegation in a statement Wednesday evening.
"Over the last several months, American has made a clear commitment to provide our customers with more direct access to our best offers and content by modernizing the retailing experience to meet the evolving customer and travel retailer," the spokesperson said. "American will deliver on that commitment for our customers and for the industry."
The airline has said that travel agencies not connected to its NDC technology by April will lose access to about 40% of fares. American has said its NDC technology will give customers access to a wider array of content, including promotional offers, branded fares and ancillary services.
In a statement, ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby said ASTA members met with American twice recently, and that those meetings "confirmed attendees' fears" regarding the airline's NDC readiness.
"It appears that AA has made a strategic decision to forsake short-term profits to achieve a stronger, anticompetitive business position long-term, one secured by denying access to fare inventory," Kerby said.
Withholding "such a substantial portion of its fares" from travel agencies would negatively impact the public, especially corporate travelers, Kerby said. He argued that a number of travel management companies (TMCs), GDSs and third-party booking technology providers have said they will not be ready for NDC implementation by April.
The American spokesperson said that the carrier has worked for months with corporate customers and travel agents, so they will be well prepared. In addition, the carrier's NDC connections with Travelport and Amadeus have been live for more than a year. NDC capability with Sabre will launch April 1.
Greg Webb, CEO of Travelport, confirmed that Travelport+ has been fully integrated with AA's NDC content since the second quarter of 2022.
"AA's been a very supportive partner," Webb said. "We feel like we have a very good relationship with them, and we feel ready to go with what they're going to do across the board."
In an interview this week, Jay Richmond, Amadeus' senior director of global solution consulting, said Amadeus-connected travel agencies should be mostly ready to view NDC content by April. He said that onboarding the technology is usually a two- or three-day process. However, he said, agencies have more work to do to be ready for servicing and settlement.
ASTA accuses American Airlines of 'bullying'
Kerby called AA's move "sudden bullying of valuable distribution partners," and suggested the Department of Transportation "investigate the consequences of AA's actions" if its NDC strategy is put into place as planned next month.
"ASTA is cognizant that AA has been working with stakeholders to prepare for the coming changes," Kerby said. "However, given the scope of this undertaking, it is clear that much more work needs to be done if NDC implementation is to be achieved in a manner that promotes healthy competition and avoids massive disruption to the air ticket distribution ecosystem of which we are all a part."
American, conversely, said the steps it is taking to incentivize NDC adoption will catalyze a meaningful change in the industry landscape.
"We knew that this ability to differentiate content would be the catalyst for progress spurred toward healthy competition within the industry, which is good for travelers and good for the marketplace," the spokesperson said. "The industry is seeing that progress now, and our customers will soon benefit."
Robert Silk contributed to this report.