6 years ago

Court: If Sabre biases American Airlines flights, then airline can seek injunction

American Airlines notched a procedural victory in its ongoing litigation with Sabre in a state court in Texas.

The District Court in Tarrant County, Texas, denied Sabre’s motion to dismiss American Airlines’ hearing request for a temporary injunction. Sabre unsuccessfully argued that American’s claims for a temporary injunction were inconsistent with the Federal Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.


What does it all mean?

American Airlines and Sabre face an Aug. 31 deadline to renew an amendment to their GDS participation agreement, and if Sabre decides to bias American Airlines’ fights in the GDS, as Sabre did for a short time in January, then American is free to go to court to seek injunctive relief.

“We are pleased that the court rejected Sabre’s argument,” said Ryan Mikolasik, a spokesman for American Airlines.

Nancy St. Pierre, a Sabre spokeswoman, said the company “will prepare for whatever next steps are determined by the judge. Our focus remains on negotiating a deal with American Airlines that balances the needs of all constituents.”

Asked whether Sabre is taking or planning any commercial actions against American Airlines, St. Pierre said: “We are not going to discuss actions we may or may not take.”

In early January, the same state court granted American Airlines a temporary restraining order against Sabre biasing. That temporary restraining order is no longer in effect, the court ruled.

In other temporary court-order distribution news, Orbitz Worldwide noted in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the court order mandating that American Airlines restore its flights to Orbitz sites “is in place until further order of this court, but in no event beyond September 1, 2011.”

In other words, it is possible that American Airlines’ flights may again be absent from Orbitz sites after Sept. 1, barring another court order or the successful culmination of airline-GDS negotiations between American and Travelport, which controls Orbitz Worldwide.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail to someone
Dennis Schaal

About the Writer :: Dennis Schaal

Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Travelport, Amadeus, Sabre, Abacus briefs - June 2011 | Tnooz

    […] Court: If Sabre biases American Airlines flights, then airline can seek injunction [full story] […]

  2. Peggy Lee

    I don’t want to take sides on this one (notice only Timothy posted before me on this one). I believe that both sides have certain rights. But in the end, American owns that content. How it chooses to distribute it should be its choice. Southwest has long had a competitive advantage against American in Sabre (distribution cost) …yada, yada, yada. And though I don’t always agree with American’s decisions about who and what content they share, and whether or not they are compensated for it, I have to say that in any other vertical would this even be in question? Should Walmart or Costco have the right to provide Chanel content if they don’t actually OWN the inventory? Sure, they have the right to bias which product you see first when shopping, but they are selling the product on behalf of the supplier. Even a consignment shop is not the same. I write my checks to the store, not the landlord that houses the content or the owner of the content who places it in the client’s store but does not hold the financial relationship with the consumer. In AA’s case, they are the seller and as a travel agent, I was not too happy with that. Since I was smart enough (or dumb enough depending upon your perspective) to get out of the agency biz in the late 90’s, I can see it a bit differently now. If Sabre offers a value to AA that they cannot duplicate, they will pay to play. If they don’t, AA will again be the renegade Texans, like their friends at Southwest.

  3. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    Interestingly this ruling also will clearly apply to Travelport. Their unilateral decision to impose surcharges on International Segment fees was clearly open to a court order determination. Now Travelport’s legal team knows that any such future actions will also be subject to the same type of ruling.

    What was not clear in all that brouhaha was that the introduction of the surcharges and the pass through to the agents was not initiated by AA but by Travelport’s unilateral actions. The ensuing arguments became an arcane debate on the methodology of the fruit(s) rather than that original poisoned vine action of imposing unilateral fee surcharges.

    One thing we should not lose sight of is that these legal actions are a challenge to the very core of the model.

    The law – who tends to be a little behind the curve – must decide if the GDS have the right to hold onto their business model at the expense of the owner of the content. Ruling in favour of the GDSs could have serious impact for any owner of content not just in Travel but in other product categories elsewhere.

    With so many choices available to the consumer of where to buy his product – any charge of damage caused to the consumer has limited basis in fact. Clearly the decline of the agency share at the expense of the direct share shows that the consumer is voting with his feet and his wallet. Preserving the status quo in a protected manner would seem to be against the grain of a free market and well frankly un-American.

    And let’s be clear – that there are hurt parties in this battle. Not all of them obvious and not all of them aware that they are indeed victims. The power of the GDS to have created such fear of reprisals up and down the distribution/supply chain is also a cause for concern.

    Let’s hope that the “system” works in favour of what is right. Whatever that might be is not clear to all – yet.



Newsletter Subscription

Please subscribe now to Tnooz’s FREE daily newsletter.

This lively package of news and information from Tnooz’s web site provides a convenient digest of what’s happening in technology that drives the global travel, tourism and hospitality market.

  • Cancel