Altitude22: Finnair says 'enough is enough' and calls time on legacy GDS technology

Altitude22: Finnair says 'enough is enough' and calls time on legacy GDS technology

Carrier tells delegates at this week's Amadeus airline executives; conference in Dubai that it is 'fed up' supporting two technologies and plans to move 100% to New Distribution Capability in three years

Finnair has called time on legacy EDIFACT aviation distribution saying it will retire the technology entirely in the next three years.

Rogier Van Enk, senior vice president of customer engagement at the north European carrier, said it was “fed up” supporting two data standards.

The airline will move 100% to an NDC world, the standard developed by Iata to modernise aviation retailing, Van Enk told Amadeus’ Altitude22 summit in Dubai this week.

“We felt enough is enough. We are fed up with technology that’s getting in our way. Fed up with paying for two technologies,” he said. “Our goal is to sunset legacy tech as fast as we can.”

While the eventual shift to NDC is no surprise, it was expected that it will continue to be run in parallel with traditional GDS EDIFACT systems for the foreseeable future.

Finnair’s bold statement of intent is part of a shift away from old-fashioned Passenger Name Record (PNR) and ticketing protocols to  more sophisticated offer, order management systems.

Van Enk said this will offer customer more choice and flexibility to bundle and unbundle products and services “as they see fit”. “It will allow airlines to do world class retailing,” he added.

He urged all players in the indirect channel to follow suit and move to the “modern world” of NDC.

“It not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Our journey started in 2016. You can only move as fast as your weakest link. We need everyone in the value chain to move at the same pace.”

The COVID pandemic forced the sector to embrace self-service as customers looked to deal with airlines direct to manage disruption to flights and schedules.

In-house engineers took control of the carrier’s front end and redesigned everything it did to give it a competitive advantage.

Van Enk said Finnair’s direct and indirect channels feed customers into its “flywheel” which engages with them and puts at the centre incentivising them to remain loyal to the brand.

“Consumers enter the flywheel and they do not exit. We get higher NPS [Net Promoter Scores] and it leads to more money for the company.

“That’s only possible if you have world class digital solutions and you only have world class digital   solutions if you move to offers and orders.”

Finnair has invested heavily in its .com site to provide more choice and personalisation but Ven Enk said it sees its app as the future and the ultimate for offer automation, self-service and loyalty.

“We really want to double down on self-service. Three or four years ago no one was talking about self-service.

“It’s a key part of our app but we also want to continue focusing on customer engagement so they enter the flywheel and they never leave.”