Airline’s Recovery Path To Profitability After The Pandemic – Reduced Distribution Cost And Increased Ancillary Revenue

After months of lockdowns and travel curbs, the aviation sector is on the path to recovery, but profitability seems to be out of reach for many airlines. Airlines are especially finding it hard to fill seats due to many passengers’ hesitancy to board flights (only 61% of passengers are comfortable flying in the next six months). 

Further, airlines must combat unreasonably high distribution costs, which are among their most significant expenses, thanks to the oligopoly of the three most prominent GDS companies. To make matters worse, ancillary sales, an important revenue driver, have fallen by 73% year on year.

Consequently, airlines’ chances of returning to pre-pandemic levels of profitability will depend entirely on whether they can drastically cut distribution costs and come up with ancillaries that passengers will care about in the era of COVID. 

As you read on, you will find out exactly how airlines can go about achieving this. 

The value proposition of NDC

The New Distribution Capability (NDC), an XML-based standard for data transmission, put forward by the IATA, can disrupt the vice-like control that the major GDS companies have on airline distribution.

By letting airlines control their offer, ticketing, and settlement processes without the GDS across all channels, NDC enables them to cut costs significantly. Moreover, if airlines partner with multiple NDC aggregators globally, competition between the aggregators will bring down distribution costs to around $ 2-4 instead of the $14 – 25 that airlines are currently spending. 

In addition to this, airlines can cut back on distribution costs with an automated group revenue management solution that ensures that group bookings are made in a manner that brings in the most revenue while spending the least possible amount on distribution. 

There is also the option of partnering with various governments to serve as the official carrier of the nation. This means that without any indirect and expensive distribution channel, you can reach hundreds of high-yield passengers.

Boosting revenue with ancillaries

Ancillary sales are way down now that customer priorities have changed. Mainly, passengers are looking for safety from covid, personalization, and great value for money. As a result, the ancillaries you offer need to reflect these realities. 

For instance, many airlines have found great success by offering comprehensive covid insurance covering quarantine, telemedicine, screening, etc., if passengers test positive for the virus. Also, you can make it a point to offer immunity-boosting kits and baggage wrapping for enhanced protection from the infection.  

Notably, you can offer passengers the ability to book the seats next to them to ensure social distancing. 

Another ancillary that passengers will be delighted by is the ability to cancel free of charge if they catch covid.

Meanwhile, your corporate passengers can benefit from Wi-Fi, easy seat upgrades, access to business lounges, shuttle service to their destination from the airport, etc.

With tourists, a surefire way to boost revenue is by offering fully packaged trips to places, such as religious destinations. Specifically, you can provide food, hotel bookings, car rentals, bus services, etc., which will enhance your profit margins.  

Airlines can further offer ancillaries, such as relaxation and well-being packages, given how people have endured a lot of stress and trauma during the pandemic


There is a lot of uncertainty ahead regarding when passengers will regain confidence in traveling. However, by following the double-pronged approach of bringing down distribution costs and boosting ancillary sales with personalized offers, airlines can return to profitability in no time. 

If your airline needs an IT partner for implementing Direct Distribution Solution or any Consultancy to generate the maximum possible revenue from every seat, reach us at 

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