Talk around the need for airlines to become retailers finally turned to action last year and a number of airlines moved forward with ancillary initiatives.
This year would seem to be shaping up nicely with announcements in recent weeks around carriers extending NDC tests,Travelport signing up 100 airlines to its merchandising technology and plans for Expedia to launch branded fares via Amadeus with selected airlines in the middle of the year.
Amadeus has been working with eDreams Odigeo to implement its ancillary services technology for the online travel agency and its airline partners for a couple of years.
But, it was only in the past year that large carriers, such as Air France and British Airways, really started to provide content for the service.
Amadeus head of leisure and online travel Sebastien Gibergues believes 2015 will see it take off in terms of adoption in online channels.
"We really believe comparison shopping is the Holy Grail for online travel. The consumer wants to compare before they buy."
Javier Bellido, head of eDreams Odigeo in Spain, adds that the adoption rate is increasing and baggage and seat add-ons continue to be the most popular.
Elements such as where in the purchasing cycle airlines and other distributors should offer ancillaries are becoming clearer with research from Amadeus showing 50% of travellers prefer to buy services at the time of booking.
The global distribution giant released research last October showing a Euro 35 increase in the value of a booking by integrating the services at the right time.
Bellido stresses the complexity of ancillaries from an OTA point a view with 400 airlines in 45 countries to contend with.
"Each airline has a different definition of what a bag is along with other variables. We have the task of digesting all that information for the customer"
Other factors it take into account are what's best for customers - the cheapest fares plus a bag or the best available rate that includes the bag.
All that begs the question of whether customers want these unbundled services or if it's just for airlines to make money?
Gibergues says all evidence points to consumers wanting to shop around and compare but there is also the idea of passengers just wanting to pay for what they use which is still up for discussion.
And as to where the industry is the adoption curve of being able to offer ancillary services via various channels, Bellido says one-by-one the big carriers have started to unbundle.
He adds that other carriers have different strategies for long-haul and short-haul and that there are also traditional airlines who are rebundling because, on the one hand they need to compete with budget carriers, while on the other, there are times they need to up the average price to increase yield.
Another question might be that as more and more airlines move to retailing via third parties, where is the differentiation?
Gibergues says it's about using technology to "open the doors to new airline experiences."
"Between the complexity of the supply side and expectation of the traveller to have a complete transparent experience there will be many ways to manage the experience."
Finally, if the debate has moved from discussions about standards into the actual retailing of fares, where does the IATA new distribution capability sit in all this?
Bellido says eDreams Odigeo is taking part and believes in technology standards. That said, the OTA is concerned with the business model, what's in it for participants and content.
"One thing is the technology standard, the other is the content carriers will be able to share - videos, ancillaries with rich descriptions. So, how can this standard be digestible for us and our customers?"
As the NDC standard takes shape, developments between technology players, airlines and third parties will not wait as the commercial pressures remain firmly top of the agenda.
NB: Airline retailing image via Shutterstock.