Open AXIS Group, a non-profit organization that promotes XML as “the optimal electronic messaging structure” for airline system connectivity, introduced the I-EMD, a “virtual” image of an electronic miscellaneous document.

The I-EMD is designed to serve as an informational tool until industrywide implementation of EMDs, with settlement from ARC or IATA, is achieved. That, according to Open AXIS, could take years to fully evolve.

Jim Young, executive director of Open AXIS, said the financial information is stripped out of the I-EMD so that travel management companies will have a record of the transaction.

The information could be funneled to the agency via a third-party technology company; alternatively, an airline could modify its host system to deliver the information, Young said.

The I-EMD is available immediately for corporate booking tools and agency point of sale systems (including GDSs) to obtain ancillary service transaction data.

The tool was unveiled in an Open AXIS white paper that describes “a new indirect channel model that expands the level of airline products and services available to agencies, corporations, the GDS and other travel intermediaries.”

“Distribution 2.0” aims to close the gap that exists between airline websites, which “have matured into savvy, traveler-centric online marketplaces capable of personalizing product/service offers and the overall end-user experience,” and the indirect channel, which relies on “the assembly-line fashion of airline distribution, or ‘Push Model’ – where multiple pieces of airline product data (such as fares, availability, and schedules) are pushed out to a vastly powerful central system (GDS), from where they are compiled and distributed to the world at large.”

A key component of the new model, according to the report, is the replacement of legacy Edifact connections with modern XML messaging connections for distribution. XML offers “vastly more powerful functionality and flexibility,” Open AXIS said.

Another is support for traveler-authenticated shopping, providing travel management companies with the high degree of product and service personalization seen in the direct channel.