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American Sues Sabre, Travelport

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In two separate actions, American Airlines has sued Sabre for violating its agreement with the airline and taken out a restraining order preventing Sabre from suppressing American fares in its display.

A judge has already granted the restraining order, meaning Sabre must stop biasing against American fares in travel agent queries. In a statement, American said, “The Court’s order prohibits Sabre from continuing its recently announced practice of intentionally making it difficult for American’s agents and customers from finding and purchasing American services in the Sabre global distribution system.  American intends to vigorously pursue its litigation against Sabre, including seeking damages for other violations of our agreements.”

For consumers, this means travel agents using Sabre’s GDS will once again have unblocked access to American’s fares. The move should have little impact on online fare shopping.

The lawsuit also names Travelport, which owns 48 percent of Orbitz. American wants the court to rule that it did not breach its contract with Travelport when the airline pulled its fares from Orbitz in December. The restraining order pertains to Sabre only.

In that same statement, American said the lawsuit “alleges that Sabre’s recent actions taken against American, including the biasing of American’s services in all Sabre flight displays, violates agreements between American and Sabre and harms American, the travel agent community, and the traveling public.”

Tnooz’ Dennis Schaal added, “The airline says Sabre also more than doubled the booking fees it charges to American, a move that would increase the airline’s distribution costs by $157 million annually.”

A Sabre spokeswoman told the Dallas Morning News that Sabre “is confident that our actions are well within our contractual rights, and we will aggressively defend against American Airlines’ baseless claims to the contrary.

“[We believe] the court will affirm Sabre’s contractual right to protect our customers’ interests and support airlines that value transparent and efficient comparison shopping.”

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