Judge dismisses all but one claim by American in Travelport lawsuit

Washington DC
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A federal judge in the state of Texas has dismissed four out of five claims made by American Airlines in an anti-trust lawsuit against global distribution system (GDS) owner Travelport.

The lawsuit is part of a larger controversy that erupted earlier this year between American and GDS companies over the carrier's desire to in some instances bypass the GDS companies through a direct connect link to travel agents.

Direct connections allow travel agents and companies to access an airline's inventory directly rather than through the GDS companies, which charge transaction fees to airlines.

American filed the lawsuit against Travelport, which owns the Worldspan and Galileo distribution systems, in April of this year.

Travelport disclosed in a 22 November regulatory filing that in a sealed decision a Texas court dismissed four of the anti-trust claims.

Through those claims American argues Travelport monopolises distribution to travel agencies; entered into a conspiracy with travel agents to monopolise distribution; has agreements with airlines and travel agencies that unlawfully restrain trade; and counters Travelport's actions are illegal under Texas state law.

The single claim the court allowed to move forward for factual analysis is Travelport monopolises access to its current travel agency subscriber base.

"Monopolisation claims based on such narrowly defined markets rarely succeed, and a similar claim against a competitor was recently rejected by a federal court in New York," said Travelport.

US Airways filed a lawsuit against the Sabre GDS earlier this year, and in September a New York court dismissed two of the carrier's claims - that Sabre monopolises the travel agent market, and the GDS company entered into agreements with travel agents that contain terms related to volume thresholds and transaction ratios.

The remaining counts in US Airways' original complaint allege Sabre has entered into agreements with airlines and travel agents that unreasonably restrain competition and that Sabre has forged pacts with other global distribution system providers to entrench the dominance of each company.

American has filed its own lawsuit against Sabre claiming the company engages in anti-competitive behaviour while Sabre has filed a counter claim that argues American is forcing travel agencies to adopt direct connect technology. A trial date for the case is set for 13 June 2012.