Sabre willing to talk as American anit-trust court date set

American Airlines and Sabre Holdings must wait more than a year to settle their anti-trust lawsuit in court after a US judge set a trial date for next June.

Sabre and American have filed competing claims in the Texas State Court in a long-running battle over the way air fares are distributed to travel retailers.

The US carrier has sought to bypass global distribution systems (GDSs) such as Sabre by encouraging use of its own Direct Connect system, amid wider antagonism among airlines at the fees they pay to appear on GDSs.

Texas Judge Donald J Cosby this week fixed a trial date of June 13. American and Sabre agreed at the end of August to extend their existing full-content agreement until after completion of the lawsuit.

In a statement, Sabre Travel Network senior vice-president Chris Kroeger said: “Sabre remains committed to securing a new distribution agreement with American Airlines that provides both transparency and certainty. Unfortunately, American prefers litigation to negotiation.

“We are ready to get back to the negotiating table at any time and hope American will get past its preference for litigation and join us in reaching a new agreement.”

However, American gave no hint that it is prepared to compromise. A spokesman for the airline said: “We are looking forward to presenting the facts to the jury about Sabre’s anti-competitive and retaliatory behaviour.”

American Airlines is also involved in anti-trust action in the US against Travelport, owner of the Worldspan and Galileo GDSs.

The US carrier is a partner of British Airways, which has said it is watching the dispute with the GDSs “with interest”. BA will begin negotiations on new agreements with its GDS partners next year.

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