Judge Allows American to Drop Orbitz

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A Chicago judge denied Orbitz' request for a preliminary injunction against American, which wants to pull its fares from Orbitz. According to the Associated Press (AP), "The judge's ruling says Orbitz can sue American later to sort out whether it breached its contract with Orbitz." A judge had previously granted a restraining order against American that prevented the airline from pulling its fares, but this ruling takes precedence.

But for now, it appears American is free to remove its fares from Orbitz—which Orbitz indeed contends would be a breach of contract. The issue stems from American's request that Orbitz use the airline's own flight inventory distributor, rather than a third-party distribution program that accesses and disseminates American's fares. Travelport, which owns almost half of Orbitz, also runs two large global distribution systems (GDS). American is trying to force Orbitz to use its own distribution system, which would lower costs for American, but critics say it could have adverse effects on competition.

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In a statement, Travelport said it "believes that [American]'s plans to force a more restrictive distribution model will result in inefficiencies and added costs and will be detrimental to airline customers, travel agencies and consumers." It also said the functional changes American wants to make can be done through Travelport's GDS.

At press time, American had not issued a statement.

The question now, obviously, is when and if American will actually pull its fares. Stay tuned.

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