British Airways opens up flight data to boost innovation


British Airways is opening up flight data to encourage developers to create new ways for customers to find and buy plane tickets.

The airline has released three APIs as part of an industry-wide trial for developers to access content and data that will underpin apps for customers to search for flights and complete bookings.

The Air Shopping API allows users to search for availability and prices, the Flight Price API validates price quotes and provides payment options, and the Order and Create API completes the booking, accepts payments and issues tickets.

The project is a collaborative initiative led by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and British Airways is one of the first participants.

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.

"In addition to access at, British Airways also expects to provide access via a number of IT service providers, such as Travelfusion, which is a leading online travel content aggregator and innovator of direct connect distribution solutions."

Releasing APIs is only part of the IATA's trial, which will also develop an XML-based data messaging standard, known as the New Distribution Capability (NDC), to deliver data to travel agents.

The trial also complements British Airways' plans to add the ability for customers to see a seat map, reserve a seat and pay for additional baggage through its NDC service providers and third parties that process flight transactions.

Over time, the APIs could become more complex, allowing customers to see their flight lounge privileges and baggage allowances, and enabling travel agents to offer extra services.

People can sign up to take part in the trial at British Airways told IT Pro the scheme has no deadline and is "open-ended".