Distribution and selling challenges in the Middle East and Africa: NDC to the rescue?

14 March, 2019

Legacy distribution systems have for decades presented airlines with the twin problems of high costs and product commoditisation. In efforts to address these issues, a handful of carriers throughout the world have invested heavily into establishing their own API channels with agents, while the concurrent push by IATA for airlines to implement the NDC standard has encouraged the industry to adopt a retail focused approach to distribution.

The GDS will also need to evolve in order to remain relevant and to compete effectively against other intermediaries and aggregators such as metasearch companies (some of which now have direct booking capabilities), as well as digital behemoths such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook - to gain a slice of the pie.

But as airlines work on enhancing their retail offering and improving their merchandising capability via both direct and indirect channels, a resounding message from industry players is that airlines need to consider the importance of mobile and messaging platforms, which are slowly replacing the desktop as the preferred interface for researching and booking travel.

As one the discussion topics at the forthcoming Middle East & Africa Aviation Summit 2019, CAPA - Centre for Aviation will explore this subject and question is this increasingly fragmented and complex commercial and technological distribution landscape sustainable?

It will also study how business models will evolve, look if there still is a need for a direct connect aggregator and question should airlines build lots of direct connects or revert back to lean, centralised distribution channels? There is also the question who is going to be offering services to bridge the gap between airlines/aggregators that are NDC compliant and those that aren't and will it be the GDS and IT providers, other airlines or speciality providers?

Similarly, it will investigate how airlines can enhance their digital shopfront and if they are over-emphasising the importance of airline.com over mobile messaging platforms and bot technologies?

As the foremost authority on aviation in the world, CAPA - Centre for Aviation's events provide cutting edge knowledge about strategic market trends and dynamics to help attendees make informed decisions, delivering the information and connections needed to inspire and improve business. The CAPA Middle East & Africa Aviation Summit will take place in Dubai between 29-30 April 2019.

The summit will examine key commercial and operational issues affecting airlines and airports in the Middle East and Africa, focusing on both domestic issues and growth prospects in key international markets. CAPA will challenge leaders of the Middle East and African aviation industry to reflect on what is needed to drive the industry forward, using examples of innovation in outside markets as a benchmark to follow.

Like their peers elsewhere, carriers in the Middle East face ongoing challenges to their business models. Competition from ambitious new entrants such as the Chinese carriers are threatening the big three Gulf carriers' position as the chief global superconnectors, who are themselves slowing down as they recalibrate their market positioning.

The region's airlines also have to contend with challenges unique to the Middle East, such as fluctuating oil revenues, regional conflict and overcrowded airspace. On the regulatory front, ongoing negotiations for comprehensive air transport agreements between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council nations are being hampered by protectionist voices.

Further west, Africa faces its own protectionist hurdles. Impotent government transport strategies and an unwavering commitment to propping up failing carriers continues to limit the region's aviation success. Local airlines are faced with high operating costs arising from government imposed taxes on aviation fuel and monopoly airport fees, while poor management practices and government restrictions on operational freedoms have severely impaired the natural progression of the industry.

While the Jan-2018 launch of the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) represents progress, perhaps the greatest optimism attaches to some very persistent attempts to expand LCC operations in the region.

The CAPA Middle East & Africa Aviation Summit seeks to tap into the dynamic changes taking place in the airline industry in this part of the world and address the issues in creative and authoritative ways.

This event, hosted at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre (DICEC), previously known as the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), is a forum for debate and discussion of this strategic issue within the aviation industry and it is attracting delegate interest from across the globe. It is a must attend for those seeking to do business in the Middle East & Africa, where they can gain first-hand inspiration from airlines, LCCs, airports, travel technology providers, OEMs and financiers.

FIND OUT MORE… visit the CAPA Middle East & Africa Aviation Summit homepage to find out more about this not-to-be-missed opportunity to discuss relevant issues impacting the aviation sector and learn meaningful insights from your industry peers.