Published on Thursday, June 2, 2011

Battle rages on between AA and the GDS giants

American Airlines and the global distribution systems are at loggerheads again, firing off new legal offensives in US courts.

AA has added Sabre Holdings to its civil antitrust suit filed in April against Travelport and Orbitz, while Sabre has filed its own anti trust suit against American.

Both actions occurred on the day that an agreed upon truce between the two companies expired.

AA's amended lawsuit seeks to stop "exclusionary, anti-consumer and anti-competitive business practices" of the GDSs and recover monetary damages, AA said in a statement.

Sabre, meanwhile, claimed AA is "unlawfully forcing travel agencies, travel management companies and corporations to take its Direct Connect product in order to access the airline's full fare information, which constitutes illegal 'tying’".

"Our preference was to extend the current legal 'stand down'," said Sabre Travel Network senior VP Chris Kroeger.

"However, it is apparent based on AA's actions that Sabre has no choice but to pursue legal remedies."

AA said its decision to include Sabre in the lawsuit comes after the carrier "attempted for several months to resolve disputes over distribution of the airline's fares and schedules, as American sought commercially reasonable terms for distribution through the Sabre GDS, but Sabre has been unresponsive to those requests".

Separately, Travelport, which is also being sued by AA, won a legal victory over the carrier when a court overturned its previous ruling that permitted AA to terminate ticketing contracts with its subsidiary Orbitz last December.

In a statement today, TravelPort said: “The court conceded that it erred in its December 21, 2010 ruling. Issuing its order today, the court agreed with Travelport that an injunction should have been granted against AA in December which would have prevented AA from terminating its contracts with Orbitz.

“The court’s order requires AA to reinstate Orbitz’s ability to display and ticket AA flights. As a result, Orbitz is able to sell AA’s fares and content immediately. As part of its ruling, the court noted that ‘Travelport also demonstrated that it had a likelihood of success on the merits’ of its claims against AA.”

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