GDS row unresolved despite American Travelport agreement

American Airlines has confirmed it remains in litigation with global distribution systems (GDSs) Travelport and Sabre, and said the carrier’s extension of its full-content agreement with Travelport has not settled their dispute.

Travelport and American issued a joint statement in the US on Friday announcing their “existing full content agreements . . . have been extended concurrently and are no longer due to expire in 2011”.

The companies declined to comment further, even to disclose how long the extension would run – although Travel Weekly understands it will expire next year. However, a US spokesman for American Airlines confirmed: “We remain in litigation with Travelport. The contract extension did not end the litigation.”

The dispute between the companies centres on the cost to carriers of appearing on GDSs – charges levied on every booking – and American’s desire to drive bookings via its own online Direct Connect channel. Other carriers are expected to follow suit if American succeeds in transforming the relationship between airlines and GDSs.

The contract extension forestalled the removal of American fares from Travelport-owned Worldspan under an agreement which would otherwise have expired this week. American’s full content deal with Galileo, another Travelport GDS, was due to expire next month.

The agreements will now continue into next year while lawsuits proceed in the US. American and Travelport have filed competing anti-trust suits against one another in a US Federal Court.

The US carrier and Sabre have also issued competing anti-trust suits against each other and American’s spokesman confirmed: “We remain in litigation with Sabre. We do not expect the extension with Travelport to have an effect on our litigation with Sabre.”

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