Pivotal moments in 2014 – when Sabre changed its tune over NDC

There was a subtle change at Sabre HQ during 2014 – from leading the battle against IATA‘s NDC to embracing it. Sabre went …

There was a subtle change at Sabre HQ during 2014 – from leading the battle against IATA‘s NDC to embracing it.

Sabre went to war against American Airlines in 2010. Furthermore, in then railed in public against NDC and the airlines.

More recently, however, Sabre has become more conciliatory. In September, Tnooz was the first media outlet to report that Sabre’s official line had changed.

The pivotal moment officially came during IATA’s World Passenger Symposium sessions in San Diego in October.

During the conference, Sabre first came clean and said that it would support NDC based on customer wishes.

More recently, Sabre CEO Tom Klein supposedly blasted IATA’s efforts when he declared that the airline group was not in a position to be innovative, a position quickly rebuffed by several commentators.

So why the change? Has Sabre changed its tune on NDC?

Actually, yes it has. The pivot allows Sabre to cosy back up to the airlines and repair some of the collateral damage from its bruising battle with American Airlines.

While the terms of the agreement out of court settlement between Sabre and AA were not made public and the court records sealed, disclosures during the trial indicated a strong level of hostility to airline-based initiatives, such as the famed Direct Connect

But that has all changed now as Sabre joins Travelport and Amadeus in its qualified support for NDC.

Perhaps this change indeed marks the end of the road for the closed GDS world.

I would caution against anyone getting too excited just yet.

NDC represents a significant expense for Sabre, at the very time its coffers are looking a little lighter (though perhaps $120 million richer come early-2015) than others for all its purposes, not just development.

This is in stark contrast to its friends over at Amadeus HQ in Madrid, which has a far higher number to play with and far less gearing to contend with.

The change is being driven by its desire to focus on airlines as a customer and leverage that market for greater revenues and profit.

Peace across the valley.

NB: Change tune image via Shutterstock.