Sabre Corporation on Tuesday (June 13) announced the completion of a new multi-year distribution agreement that provides Sabre-connected travel agencies with long-term access to Air Canada’s full content via New Distribution Capabilities (NDC) channels.

Under the agreement, Sabre will be able to provide agencies with significantly improved content and offers from Air Canada, including the airline’s dynamically-priced fares and new ancillary services.

According to a press release, Air Canada is working with Sabre on the launch of the airline’s NDC offers in the Sabre travel marketplace.

The two companies expect to activate Air Canada’s NDC content in Sabre within the coming months.

Once Air Canada’s NDC connection to Sabre is live, the Distribution Cost Recovery previously announced by Air Canada will be waived for Sabre-connected travel agencies using this path.

READ MORE: Air Canada to launch NDC program in June. SVP Mark Nasr explains what this means

“We’re proud to be taking this next step with Sabre in providing the broadest range of rich Air Canada content, travel options and services to our customers and agency partners,” said Mark Nasr, executive vice-president, marketing and digital for Air Canada. “Air Canada recognizes and appreciates Sabre’s progressive approach and the significant technology investments they’re making, which taken together, will deliver meaningful value to all travel industry stakeholders.”

Nasr said the new partnership is the result of “long-standing discussions,” and it “marks a significant next step towards delivering on Air Canada’s distribution promise: a smooth transition for agencies and travel buyers – both larger and smaller.”

Alternative to legacy distribution

As first reported in April, Air Canada’s NDC program will feature expanded content and additional trade support for agencies and travel buyers.

The program promises a competitive alternative to legacy distribution, giving travel agents access to expanded inventory, fares, ancillary services, ticketing, digital products and personalized content.

(Air Canada)

It aims to improve processes around change exchanges, cancellations, refunds, servicing, and seat assignments, offering a more efficient shopping experience for retail fare products, as well as the elimination of select debit memos.

The switch-over will also create new opportunities for agencies to engage with Aeroplan. 

The move aligns with Air Canada’s commercial strategy around fleet modernization and expansion, including an investment in dozens of new, fuel-efficient Airbus A220 and A321XLR aircraft.

“NDC is a corporate priority for Sabre as an enabler of modern retailing. We share this vision with Air Canada and support its ambitious retailing and distribution goals, while ensuring agencies will benefit from the ample choice, efficiency and transparency of the Sabre Travel Marketplace,” said Roshan Mendis, chief commercial officer for Sabre Travel Solutions, in a statement. 

“This agreement demonstrates Sabre’s deep commitment to driving value and serving the diverse interests of the global travel marketplace – airlines, travel agencies and the travellers they serve.”

Air Canada’s NDC content goes live on Wednesday (June 14). 

Globally, Canada is behind on this modernization journey – some four to seven years behind other parts of the world, such as Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia, where adapted NDC-powered systems are already active.

Last April, Air Canada told PAX that many of its key agency partners had already begun implementing NDC connectivity, including Priceline, Flight Centre, Fareportal, Flighthub, Hopper, Maritime Travel, Skylink Voyages and Travix.

To help inform its strategy, Air Canada held consultations with Canadian and U.S.-based travel agencies over the past year.

Air Canada has launched an NDC hub here with up-to-date program information.

This is a developing story. 

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