Data protection group warns Iata over NDC pilot

An advisory group on data protection to the European Commission has written to airline association Iata warning that its New Distribution Capability (NDC) “raises a number of privacy and human rights concerns”.

Iata plans a series of pilot projects for NDC to begin this year.

The association describes the programme as “an industry standard” for a platform that would open third-party distribution of fares to IT providers other than global distribution systems (GDSs).

GDSs have warned this risks compromising transparency and making price comparisons impossible.

The Article 29 Data Protection Working Party wrote to Iata last month pointing out “national data protection authorities must be consulted before starting any local pilots”.

It invited Iata to submit information on NDC to allow the working party to make an initial assessment of the project.

Iata representatives told the Advantage conference this month that there are plans to launch at least one and possibily four or five pilots.

The letter, addressed to Iata regional director for Europe Monique de Smet and head of Iata passenger distribution group Eric Leopold, notes: “The development of the NDC project … should change the way flight tickets are offered to travellers.

“This project principally means potential customers’ data will be collected and processed to offer … a personalised price from the airline(s).”

Iata concedes NDC will allow member airlines to make personalised offers to clients through third-party agents.

The project is being driven by a small group of airlines, with British Airways, Lufthansa and US carrier United at the forefront.

The EC’s Data Protection Directive makes the collection and processing of personal data legal, outside of execeptional circumstances and “where the individual concerned has unambigously given his or her consent after being adequately informed”.

The working party’s website notes: “70% of EU citizens are worried about the misuse of their personal data.”

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