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Duffel, the API that reinvents the airline tickets’ distribution

With its API, Duffel intends to reinvent the way airline tickets are distributed. With a first fundraising 21.5 million dollars in Series A and a second of 30 million dollars in Series B, it seems that the start-up is succeeding. A bet that will revolutionize the airline industry, notably by replacing systems that have become obsolete but are still widely used by tourism professionals. Zoom on Duffel, and its innovative solution.

Only one API to connect to airlines

Founded in 2017 by Steve Domin, Tom Bates and Vincent Pastor, Duffel aims to connect air bookings directly from the airlines’ reservation systems. Via its API, the London-based start-up wants to simplify booking for individual travel agencies as well as for large online travel agencies. Nicknamed the “Stripe for Travel”, Duffel’s mission is to provide a simpler, faster and cheaper travel experience.

Duffel, a turning point into the aerial industry

In order to understand Duffel better, it is important to understand how the airline ticket distribution system works. And that includes the NDC standard. “Acronym of New Distribution Capability, it is a technical standard developed by IATA and is designed to enable airlines to distribute information about their flights and services to their various distributors” (Issue of Définitions-marketing). In other words, the airline will therefore be able to send the offer it has created directly to the agency or intermediary. The NDC is based on the XML internet standard and therefore allows a greater exchange of information than the current standards between travel agencies and airlines such as GDS, Global Distribution Service. As a result, airlines will be able to identify their end customers and offer them an adapted offer, by marketing their cross-sell products such as wifi on board or access to a lounge.

However, due to the obsolescence of legacy systems, previously explained in our article on Impala, many companies do not find much interest in integrating this XML technology. Often too modern, Duffel intervenes by providing an API compatible with their legacy systems.

Even more NDC airborne content

Travel agencies have always been unable to really offer additional sales to their customers. Why ? The reason is simple: it was very tedious to integrate this kind of sales into the systems. To overcome this problem, Duffel intervenes by connecting directly to the airlines’ reservation systems. As a result, by integrating the Duffel API, agencies will no longer be faced with the significant costs associated with GDSs. In addition, it will make it easier for airlines to convert to the NDC standard.

With a $21.5 million Series A fundraising from Benchmark, Blossom Capital and Index Ventures in June 2019 and a second $30 million fundraising in October 2019 (from the same investors), Duffel expects to grow. Indeed, it plans to greatly expand its workforce, particularly on the North American continent but also elsewhere in Europe. This will enable it to connect with new airlines. Currently, it has 18 partners including American Airlines, Lufthansa Group, British Airways and Air France-KLM. In the long term, it would also like to diversify its offer by integrating trains and hotels.

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