4 min

Software has a speedy cadence. A lot of it moves extremely fast with some of it in continuous integration loops, while much of it is now also processed in real-time. This reality is further fuelled by the rise of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and the interlocking neural network of relationships that they now form across modern cloud computing backbones.

As a company established to create an API hub that enables developers and enterprises to build, consume and manage APIs, Rapid decided to name itself with some kind of speedy reference… after all, the clue was always in the name.

Now celebrating the launch of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Open API Hub, Rapid says describes this development as a data ecosystem for the entire airline industry to freely and openly share APIs and data without compromising control. 

Today we know that IATA has approximately 300 members account for 83% of total air traffic.

IATA Europe

IATA’s regional office for Europe is based in Madrid, Spain and has a network of over 15 offices in both the European Union and non-EU countries comprising, among others, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Ukraine and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Working as the prime vehicle for inter-airline cooperation in promoting safe, reliable, secure and economical air services for the benefit of the world’s consumers, IATA’s new API Hub, powered by Rapid, builds on this activity and provides a platform that will allow airlines to easily connect to the world.

It’s all about enabling the use of APIs to improve every step of the passenger’s journey.

“Combining our understanding of the issues facing the airline industry with Rapid’s expertise of the API and developer ecosystem, this partnership will create a platform to help the industry to innovate toward the goal of delivering a seamless customer experience,” said Muhammad Albakri, senior vice president, financial settlement and distribution services at IATA. 

How travel uses APIs

Albakri reminds us that APIs are broadly used in the travel industry. They have a role that stretches from providing offers to customers, to baggage tracking to flight status notifications. 

“The true value of this partnership stems from the ability to successfully discover APIs, facilitate connectivity and help build trusted relationships between API providers and API consumers so that they may quickly and efficiently bring new players and applications to the market.”

When considering the air travel ecosystem (airlines, travel agents, safety regulators, aggregators, solution providers) the needs of effective data exchange is obviously critical, especially in the areas of safety, security, environment and other operational services. 

Insisting that the right technology is in place here, Albakri and team explained that the Open API Hub addresses this need (for effective data exchange) by opening up airline APIs to a broader industry community. With this hub, airlines and their partners can securely exchange and discover new information in real-time, based on open standards, without dependencies on intermediaries, fostering a healthy community of innovation.

“We’re thrilled to partner with IATA to provide a central place where developers can discover and connect to APIs from across the airline industry. This partnership will empower developers across IATA, airlines and new travel startups to create new digital experiences that enhance and streamline travel experience. Access to airline data and API through a streamlined, unified platform will accelerate digital transformation and innovation across the travel industry,” said Iddo Gino, CEO and Founder of Rapid.

The Open API Hub is now publicly available to all developers within the airline industry ecosystem. 

Ticket to ride?

This is all great news then, right?

Generally speaking yes, but this is somewhat of a broad brush handshaking launch-day announcement with little of the granular detail needed to understand how APIs are governing and changing the way we all experience airports and airline travel every day. Certainly, with the subject in hand being air travel, we would hope to hear more about cyber risk preparedness and provisioning in this space going forwards.

Further, given that we now consider Application Programming Interfaces to now be created, deployed, extended, augmented, decommissioned and retired as part of a formalised lifecycle approach to software (just as we would with any given piece of enterprise software) it would be perhaps comforting to hear Rapid (and indeed IATA for that matter) talk about the half-life of APIs as they are applied to the airline industry, almost as is they were some kind of isotope that wields innate power… but that also has an inevitable level of degradation which needs to be considered.

This is airline API territory, so it needs to be served hot and fresh from the aluminium tray with a choice of complimentary beverages, a hot face towel and some secure strapping ‘in the event of rough air’, right?

Chicken or pasta madam?

Free image: Wikipedia