Airfare-data distributor gets board seat on new standards body, Open AXIS GroupNewsBy Dennis Schaal | July 13, 2010Share This article was originally published on Open AXIS Group, a new XML standards body for airlines, had its coming out party as it launched with six founding-member North American airlines, plus ATPCO as an allied member.As previously reported, Open AXIS (Airline XML Integration Standard) Group, with Jim Young as its executive director, will license Farelogix XML schema to speed the deployment of ticketing and merchandising standards.The founding, full-member airlines are Air Canada,American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways.All of the founders are also owners of the industry fare-aggregation and distribution body, ATPCO (the Airline Tariff Publishing Co.), which gets a board seat. ATPCO's Tom Gregorson, senior director of product strategy and development, will represent his organization as an allied member on the Open AXIS Group board.ATPCO collects fares, rules and other fare-related data from arlines, compiles them in fixed-format records, and distributes them to subscribers, including major global distribution systems.ATPCO is a standards body in its own right so securing its participation in Open AXIS Group is somewhat of a coup for the new organization, although the common membership/ownership among the two groups makes ATPCO's enrollment in Open AXIS Group not all that surprising.Jay Brawley, ATPCO's director of customer marketing, says ATPCO's adoption of XML standards would enable it to access airline fares and optional services in new ways and disseminate the data to subscribers.Brawley says ATPCO won't initially transform all its data feeds to XML, but would consider doing so in the future.The emergence of a new XML airline-run standards body, Open AXIS Group, sets up a clash with 11-year-old OpenTravel -- of which Young was a cofounder -- although the two groups are playing down their differences.In July 13 press call to announce Open AXIS Group's official launch, Young said the founders opted to form a new organization focused on XML standards for airlines because OpenTravel is a pan-industry body which allegedly requires a lot of member participation and myriad conference calls to get anything done.Young said airlines have to move swiftly these days and needed a standards body focusing solely on what airlines need.Young said Open AXIS Group does not seek to compete with OpenTravel, and the two organizations have discussed ways to cooperate.OpenTravel Executive Director Valyn Perini says OpenTravel has a history of working with other standards bodies and organizations, and will find ways to work with Open AXIS Group.But Perini says part of OpenTravel's goal "is to remain at the center of the XML universe."OpenTravel, she says, is very interested in "trying to keep overlap from occurring" and avoiding a situation where the industry would have to choose between one XML standard or another.Perini sought to portray the emergence of Open AXIS Group in a positive light."OpenTravel is always happy to see more adoption of its schema, and given that Open AXIS is using schema built by Farelogix, which in turn is based on OpenTravel, this only extends our reach," Perini said.Perini rejected Young's characterization of OpenTravel's standards-development process, saying the group publishes usually publishes schema within six months.So how quickly would Open AXIS get its schema out in the market?Open AXIS is "assuming consensus [on standards among its members] and only time will tell if that assumption is correct," Perini says.The arrival of Open AXIS Group means that several of its airline members also pay dues to OpenTravel.Continental is now a member of both boards, and American, US Airways and ATPCO are also members of both organizations.For his part, Young, who was hired as executive director of Open AXIS Group, finds himself possibly in the hot seat once again as airlines develop XML standards and new ways to merchandise and distribute their products.In 2004, as vice president of global distribution for InterContinental Hotels Group, Young led the removal of the chain's room inventory from Expedia.com and hotels.com in a dispute over economic terms and marketing practices.Says Young of that experience and his new gig with Open AXIS Group: "I like working on transformational projects."The group is slated to reveal the names of its allied members later this week.