Sabre joins American Airlines row

American Airlines jetSabre has joined the row over distribution of American Airlines tickets by downgrading the carrier’s information in its US displays.

The GDS is also taking steps to renegotiate its distribution agreement with the airline.

The move is the latest stage in a row over American’s Direct Connect strategy which has led to Orbitz and Expedia act against the airline.

Sabre told subscribers: “We have provided AA notice that accelerates the termination date of our current agreement to the extent possible, culminating in early August. We are seeking a new agreement with AA that provides our customers long-term assurances of efficient comparison shopping.”

The changes in display of the airline’s content “alter the order in which some of American Airlines’ flights appear in availability and shopping displays”.

The message said displays will not be revised in the EU or Canada because of GDS regulations in those markets.

Sabre’s notice to subscribers from marketing senior vice-president Chris Kroeger advised agents that “AA’s stated plans regarding its ‘Direct Connect strategy,’ backed up by its recent actions, are an attempt to impose a costly, unproven and unnecessary system that would make it harder and more costly for you to operate your business.”

But American Airlines said Sabre had taken “a set of punitive actions against the airline and its customers, despite the fact that American has met all its obligations and continues to work in good faith with Sabre. The actions, which include biasing its shopping displays, are anti-consumer, anti-competitive and harmful to its subscribing agents”.

The airline claimed Sabre’s actions were “discriminatory” and “patently inconsistent” with its contractual obligations and its “professed goal of ensuring full transparency for the benefit of consumers and travel agents”.

The airline added: “American is committed to working with all efficient distribution channels, including traditional travel agencies, online travel agencies and global distribution systems.”

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