Airline British Airways (BA) has provided an open application programming interface (API) for flight information to IT developers, which it hopes will find innovative ways for people to search for and buy British Airways flights.
BA said the APIs will eventually let travel agents offer a more innovative and personalised service to their customers, by offering ancillary services and showcasing the customer experience in the air and on the ground.
For the trial, British Airways is providing access to three APIs that will allow developers access to content and data, to build channels for customers to search for flights, prices and to complete bookings.
Ian Luck, distribution strategy manager at British Airways, said: “These APIs help us to support innovation in the market and encourage new entrants by lowering the barriers to entry and developing new and exciting selling channels."
The airline offers additional APIs for in-flight entertainment, cheapest monthly flight offers and hotel, flight and car bookings.
British Airways said it expects to provide access through a number of IT service providers, such as Travelfusion.
The three APIs are:
- Air Shopping – allows users to search for availability and pricing;
- Flight Price – validates a price quote and provides payment options;
- Order and Create – completes the booking, accepts payments and issues the ticket.
The open API is part of a wider travel industry initiative called New Distribution Capability (NDC), which aims to use the latest technology to deliver enhanced information to travel agents.
Using NDC, BA expects to be able to offer developers the ability to create apps that can use a seat map, reserve a favourite seat and arrange for additional baggage. BA said these additional services will be made available from the company directly, via its NDC service providers and through existing global distribution systems (GDSs), subject to development.
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Making APIs available to third-party developers is one of the key ways businesses are becoming more digital. This month, minicab company Addison Lee widened its partner programme to cab operators outside London and overseas by offering an open API as part of its Addison Lee Affiliate initiative.
A recent study from Oxford Economics for CA Technologies reported that 43% of executives believe that becoming a software-driven enterprise is a critical driver of competitive advantage today, rising to 78% in three years.