Sabre on Tuesday said American Airlines, American Express Global Business Travel, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Flight Centre Travel Group will be launch partners in its Beyond NDC program. 

The travel management companies said partnering with GDSs will be key in advancing NDC solutions.

Beyond NDC is a "collaborative innovation initiative" to develop, test and integrate technology that will process New Distribution Capability (NDC) offers and orders.

"Sabre is very focused on bringing NDC-based solutions to life at scale, and there is no greater way to achieve this than by working with industry giants and thought leaders like American Airlines, American Express GBT, CWT and Flight Centre Travel Group," Kathy Morgan, vice presidnet of NDC at Sabre, said on a media call about the announcement. "This program marks a huge step forward for the industry."

Additional partners in Beyond NDC are expected to be announced at a later date.

Morgan said the focus of Sabre's partnerships are to advance NDC at an industry level.

IATA's NDC is a set of XML standards upon which solutions are built. Sabre's job, she said, is to apply those standards practically.

Vince Chirico, Carlson Wagonlit Travel's senior vice president of global network and technology partners, said the company has been studying NDC and performing capability assessments across the market.

"We have yet to see a full, end-to-end solution that can scale to help a global TMC like CWT, so we believe the GDSs are actually the fastest path to market," Chirico said. "We think they are the only ones who can deliver a full, end-to-end solution at scale."

The focus for American Express GBT, according to director of global content and distribution strategy John Bukowski, is "making sure that we can access content in a cost-efficient way that's scalable across multiple airlines and to multiple points of sale."

The partnership with Sabre and American Airlines will help that goal, he said, adding that working with GDSs will be important to reaching GBT's goals.

Neil Geurin, director of distribution strategy for American Airlines, said the carrier’s direct-connect initiative with TMCs will continue to be an option.

"That is a program that makes sense for some agencies, some customers, but we also have customers that see the value of the GDS path for NDC," he said.

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