As Travelport claimed a win in an Illinois court over American Airlines, rival GDS Sabre announced it had filed an antitrust claim against the carrier in a Texas court.
Sabre said it felt it has no choice but to pursue legal redress as part of its “continuing efforts to protect the transparency of information regarding prices that airlines charge consumers for their flights and services”.
Sabre itself has been added to a counter antritrust claim by American Airlines, again filed in Texas, which claims the GDSs are using their power to prevent alternative forms of distribution of air fares, including through direct connects with carriers.
Chris Kroeger, senior vice president at Sabre Travel Network, said: “Our preference was to extend the current legal ‘stand down’. However it is apparent based on AA’s actions that Sabre has no choice but to pursue legal remedies.
“In parallel, we will continue to pursue through negotiations a distribution agreement with AA that meets the needs of all constituents.”
Sabre’s claim accuses AA of “engaging in anticompetitive conduct to maintain its monopoly position over air transportation out of its hubs and between many US and Caribbean cities, and to gain a monopoly position in air booking services for travel between those cities”.
Sabre claims AA’s attempt to force agents and travel management companies to use its Direct Connect system to access fared was illegal ‘tying’.
It accused AA of attempting to eliminate the GDSs by refusing to provide complete fare information to the distribution systems. Sabre fears this will reduce competition by maintaining and expanding AA’s “monopoly position”.
Kroeger added: “Sabre welcomes fair, market-based competition. Having failed to gain market acceptance of its Direct Connect product, AA chose to go outside the bounds of fair competition by leveraging its monopoly position and by engaging in tying to try to force travel agencies to take a product they do not want.
“These actions violate the law and impose substantial harm on our company and the travel agencies, consumers and corporate customers we serve, compelling us to take today’s legal action.”
Sabre’s claim seeks damages and an injunction preventing AA from continuing to force travel agents and other customers to take the airline’s Direct Connect product.