September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
Now in its 27th year, the Business Travel Awards
Travel technology firm Sabre has filed an antitrust claim against American Airlines (AA).
The move is the latest development in an ongoing legal battle between the airlines and GDSs over the distribution of fares and schedules.
Sabre is seeking damages and an injunction preventing AA from “continuing to force travel agents and other customers to take the airline’s Direct Connect product”.
The global distribution system (GDS) provider has accused AA of engaging in “anticompetitive conduct” to maintain its “monopoly position" over air transportation out of its hubs and between US and Caribbean cities.
Sabre has also accused AA of attempting to gain a monopoly position in air booking services for travel between those cities.
Chris Kroeger, Sabre Travel Network senior vice president, said: “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 and force travel agencies to take a product they do not want.”
AA set up a Direct Connect model, encouraging clients to buy directly from the airline's own website rather than through the GDS, which the airline claims is too expensive.
The airline has dismissed Sabre’s claims as “meritless”, saying they should be viewed as “a spurious attempt to distract the public and its subscribers from the serious implications of its own anticompetitive behavior”.
In a statement the airline maintained direct connect “does nothing to prevent effective comparison shopping between American and its competitors”.
According to Sabre, AA is “unlawfully forcing” travel agencies, travel management companies and corporations to take its Direct Connect product, in order to access the airline’s full fare information.
Kroeger said: “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 legal action.”