The Open API channels in airline distribution. What you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask

Mobile technology and other direct channels are leading to a more fragmented distribution landscape for airlines. This brings demands for a growing level of personalisation through apps that rely on open API (Application Programming Interface).

An API is an interface for software, and an open API is one that is publicly available (but access can still be controlled). The airline industry is starting to make use of open API, but other industries have gone further. An everyday example is the API that allows a host of apps to access Google maps.

Open API can widen airline revenues by more readily making their content available to application developers and other potential partners. It can also lower the costs of bringing new content-using applications to market.

According to Travelport's Ian Heywood, speaking at CAPA's Global Aviation Summit in Oct-2017, the airline industry is only a "minute way along the path" towards full API enablement in the area of distribution. Low cost carriers have the new generation advantage that they have typically always distributed by API, while legacy airlines still tend to rely on the traditional foundation provided by ATPCo.

This report outlines what is meant by API (and ATPCo) and why, in a data-led industry, open API distribution is vital to the future for the airline industry.

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