US Airways to travel agents: We’re leveling the playing field with Sabre
US Airways penned an email yesterday to travel agency and corporate customers, following its antitrust lawsuit against Sabre, arguing that the litigation is intended “to change the system and level the playing field.”
The email, from airline president Scott Kirby, contends that Sabre, through its global distribution system, wields monopoly power, is anti-competive and anti-consumer. Kirby writes:
… Sabre has protected itself from having to update and improve its technology. Across the board there have been advances in technology and communications, and a corresponding decline in those costs, yet the cost of doing business with Sabre remains artificially inflated. Better, lower-cost technology would allow airlines to distribute their products and services more efficiently.
Kirby adds: “In an effort to change the system and level the playing field, US Airways filed a federal civil antitrust lawsuit against Sabre.”
Sabre has engaged in behavor to obstruct or delay US Airways’ ability to provide “innovative fare products through their distribution channels,” Kirby alleges.
The airline exec argues in the email that the airline hopes “the lawsuit will lead to changes that will end Sabre’s unfair control over ticket distribution. With that, customers should benefit from the lower prices, innovation which moves the industry beyond existing legacy systems, expanded investment in technology, and ultimately more choices in the marketplace for you and your travelers.”
Meanwhile, a Sabre spokeswoman says the company has taken no retailiatory commercial actions against the airline.
Sabre spokeswoman Nancy St. Pierre added the following about US Airways’ actions:
US Airways’ antitrust claim against Sabre is baseless and without merit. It is yet another misguided attempt by an airline to use the courts to undermine a market-driven distribution model that has brought competition to the airline industry by providing consumers and the third parties that serve them with the ability to quickly and conveniently comparison shop for services across hundreds of airlines around the world.
Every day, Sabre competes with multiple global distribution systems, online aggregation tools, airline websites, and other technologies for the business of thousands of travel buyers worldwide. Despite US Airways’ erroneous characterization of its contract negotiations with Sabre and our other customer relationships, including suppliers, travel agencies, travel management companies, corporations, travel websites, tour operators, and others choose to work with Sabre for one simple reason: they value the innovative products and services we provide.
We intend to aggressively defend against US Airways’ lawsuit, pursue our own legal rights, and take appropriate action to protect consumers’ right to a transparent marketplace in which travelers can quickly and conveniently comparison shop among all competing airlines.
Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.