Kochi startup opens up sky-high possibilities for airlines

Kochi startup opens up sky-high possibilities for airlines
Jerrin Jose and Satheesh Satchit

Kochi: We are familiar with interest targeting advertisements on Facebook and YouTube. Consider the scenario in which airlines offer customer centric, cost effective services based on the passenger’s interests, including his/her favourite food and beverages, services required on landing, etc., without even having to tell the operator!

This is possible. An Infopark, Kochi-based travel technology startup has opened up the immense possibility of information technology to 30 major global airlines and numerous travel agencies it has been servicing.

The startup, Verteil Technologies, is one among the prominent few global companies offering New Distribution Capability (NDC), a networking technology that could usher in a revolutionary change in air travel, by enabling the travel industry to transform the way air products are retailed.

Verteil, founded by IT professionals Jerrin Jose and Satheesh Satchit, has as its clientele airlines that handle 40 per cent of the USD 8,000 crore global air transport industry, and prominent travel agencies such as Dubai-based dnata World Travel.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) replaced the pre-Internet Global Distribution System (an air ticket distribution system) with NDC in tune with the times. Verteil developed the required software within 14 months of IATA revealing the blueprint of NDC in 2015, and won the confidence of global airlines such as British Airways and Lufthansa.

Besides these two airlines, Verteil also offers its services to Emirates, Etihad, American, United, Air Canada, Saudia, Singapore, Cathay and Iberia, among others.

The firm’s founder and CEO Jerrin Jose said these airlines and several travel agencies in India and abroad are using Verteil Direct Connect (VDC), enabling travel service providers and suppliers to sell products and services directly to passengers, bypassing legacy distribution channels.

The firm has its representatives in various countries, besides a subsidiary, Verteil Japan in Tokyo.

Jose and Satchit have been in the airline IT sector for two decades, and they realized the potential of IATA’s NDC to revolutionize the air travel industry. To tap the potential, they decided to float a company and received financial support from Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation and a few investors.

Recently, prominent industrialist Kochouseph Chittilappilly and others invested in the firm as part of its Pre-Series A funding round, led by Kochi-based Bluebell Capital Group.

The company, which is planning to launch its Rs 100 crore Series A funding round soon, aims at becoming a Unicorn firm (a company with a valuation of over USD 100 crore/Rs7,500 crore) by 2024.

GDS to NDC: A drastic change

Under the current GDS regime, an intermediary (GDS companies such as Amedeus, Sabre, Travelport, etc) functions between the travel agency and the airlines. The ticketing and distribution processes are mostly under these GDS firms, which offer their services to the airlines for a huge price. Additionally, the 40-year-old GDS technology that employs coding and separate networks lacks the flexibility the modern times demand.

Since data has to pass through several levels, GDS is not real time, and hence information about available seats or change in airfare seldom reaches the travel agent or passenger on time. Besides, GDS can’t offer more services other than ticketing and distribution.

NDC, on the other hand, links the airlines directly with online or offline travel agencies, and the information on airfare and offers are real time. The airlines receive the details of the passengers, which enable them to offer customized services.

Apart from onboard services, NDC also supports services such as taxi, hotel bookings, restaurant, travel packages, etc. The system also helps airlines save the commission, besides opening up an opportunity for additional revenue through e-commerce, said Verteil co-founder and chief product officer Satheesh Satchit. Verteil follows the subscription model to offer its software.

Meanwhile, major airlines have now started imposing fine on tickets booked over GDS. Interestingly, GDS firms have come out in the open against NDC.  

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