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NDC VS GDS: A Comprehensive Comparison

October 19, 2023
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In the dynamic world of tourism and hospitality, technology plays a crucial role in connecting travelers with airlines, hotels, and other service providers. Two key systems that have emerged in recent years are NDC (New Distribution Capability) and GDS (Global Distribution System). These systems have revolutionized the way travel products are distributed and sold. By the end of this blog, you will know comprehensive difference between NDC and GDS, their origins, functionalities, advantages, and its drawbacks.

What is NDC?

What is NDC

New Distribution Capability (NDC) is a set of XML-based data transmission standards developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to modernize and standardize airline distribution. NDC enables airlines to distribute their content directly to travel agencies, corporations, and other travel providers in a more dynamic and personalized manner.

Key Features of NDC

  • Direct Connectivity: NDC allows airlines to establish direct connections with travel sellers, reducing reliance on intermediaries like GDSs.
  • Rich Content: Airlines can provide more detailed and customizable information about their products, such as fare bundles, seat selection, and ancillary services.
  • Personalization: NDC facilitates personalized offers based on customer preferences and travel history.
  • Real-time Updates: Travel sellers can access up-to-the-minute information on fares, availability, and services, enhancing the booking experience.

Advantages of NDC

  • Enhanced Customer Experience: NDC enables more personalized and flexible booking options, improving the overall customer experience.
  • Cost Efficiency: Airlines can reduce distribution costs by bypassing GDS fees and intermediaries.
  • Ancillary Sales: Airlines can upsell ancillary services directly to travelers during the booking process.
  • Real-time Data: Access to real-time data allows travel agencies to provide accurate and timely information to their customers.

What is GDS?

What is GDS?

Global Distribution Systems (GDS) are computerized networks that enable travel agencies and other travel professionals to access and book travel products and services, including flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. Examples of GDS providers include Sabre, Amadeus, and Travelport.

Key Features of GDS

  • Aggregator: GDS platforms consolidate travel content from various airlines, hotels, and service providers, offering a one-stop-shop for travel bookings.
  • Wide Reach: GDSs have extensive global reach, connecting travel sellers with a vast network of airlines and hotels.
  • Reservation Management: Travel agents can efficiently manage reservations, issue tickets, and process payments through GDS interfaces.
  • Standardized Information: GDSs provide standardized fare information and booking processes.

Advantages of GDS

  • Access to Diverse Inventory: GDSs offer a wide range of travel content, making it convenient for travel agents to compare and book multiple options in one place.
  • Established Infrastructure: GDSs have a long history in the travel industry, and many travel agencies are familiar with their systems.
  • Global Distribution: GDSs have extensive coverage, connecting travel sellers with a global network of suppliers.
  • Simplified Booking: Travel agents can efficiently manage bookings and reservations through a single interface.

NDC vs. GDS: A Comparative Analysis

NDC vs. GDS: A Comparative Analysis

Direct vs. Indirect Distribution

  • NDC focuses on direct distribution, enabling airlines to connect directly with travel providers.
  • GDSs serve as intermediaries, aggregating content from multiple sources and distributing it to travel sellers.

Customization and Personalization

  • NDC allows for more personalized offers and tailored booking experiences.
  • GDSs offer standardized information, which may limit the level of personalization.

Cost Structure

  • NDC can potentially reduce distribution costs for airlines by cutting out GDS fees.
  • GDSs charge airlines fees for distributing their content but offer access to a wide network of travel agencies.

Integration Complexity

  • NDC requires airlines and travel agencies to invest in new technology and establish direct connections, which can be complex.
  • GDSs offer a familiar and established interface, simplifying the booking process for travel agents.

Content Richness

  • NDC allows airlines to provide rich content, including detailed information about ancillary services.
  • GDSs offer standardized content but may not provide as much detailed information about ancillaries.



In the ongoing battle between NDC and GDS, it's important to recognize that both systems have their strengths and weaknesses. NDC offers airlines more control, personalization, and potential cost savings but requires significant technological investment. On the other hand, GDSs provide a familiar and convenient platform for travel agents to access a vast inventory of travel products and services.

The future of travel distribution may involve a balance between NDC and GDS, with many industry players exploring hybrid solutions. Ultimately, the choice between NDC and GDS depends on the specific needs and strategies of airlines, travel agencies, and travelers. As technology continues to evolve, the travel industry will undoubtedly see further innovations in distribution methods, benefiting both businesses and consumers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is NDC the future of airline distribution, or will traditional GDS systems continue to coexist?

A1. The future of distribution is likely a hybrid model where NDC and traditional GDS systems coexist. The pace of adoption may vary, with some airlines continuing to rely on both systems for distribution.

Keep in mind that the NDC landscape is continually evolving, so staying informed about industry developments is essential for travel professionals and travelers alike.

Q2. What challenges does NDC face in its implementation and adoption?

A2. Challenges include technical integration, resistance to change, and concerns about data privacy and security. Achieving widespread adoption and interoperability can be complex.

Q3. How does NDC benefit travel agents and travel management companies (TMCs)?

A3. NDC benefits travel agents and TMCs by providing access to more comprehensive and dynamic content, enabling them to offer travelers a wider range of options and personalized travel experiences.

Q4. How does NDC affect pricing and fare options for flights?

A4. NDC allows airlines to offer more dynamic and personalized pricing, including the ability to bundle services and ancillaries. Travelers may see more options and fare flexibility when booking flights.

Deepti Shangari
Deepti Shangari, a seasoned senior content writer, whose passion to write, manage and conquer knows no bounds. To her, the world is an ever-changing symphony of ecstatic motion, a mesmerizing dance of evolution and unfolding. With each passing moment, the vibrant tapestry unfurls before her very eyes, inspiring her to craft literary pieces that transcend the ordinary.