Sabre calls US Airways suit "baseless"; readies defence

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Sabre is denouncing as "baseless" a lawsuit filed by US Airways, which alleges the global distribution system (GDS) has engaged in anticompetitive and anti-consumer practices.

A Sabre spokeswoman tells ATI: "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."

She adds: "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. "

Last week US Airways filed a suit in the Southern District of New York seeking monetary damages for, among other things, the broad claim that Sabre "has engaged in a pattern of exclusionary conduct to shut out competition, protect its monopoly pricing power, and maintain its technologically-obsolete business model".

US Airways also alleges that Sabre has been aggressive in suppressing the ability for travel agents to book tickets directly with airlines' own reservation data, which would effectively enable them to bypass GDSs altogether.

The suit comes at a time when airlines are growing increasingly unhappy with the current distribution system, a reality underscored by a recent war between American Airlines and both online travel agents and the GDSs that run them, including Sabre.

With regard US Airways's complaint, Sabre is not taking the carrier's claims lying down. "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 travellers can quickly and conveniently comparison shop among all competing airlines," says the Sabre spokeswoman.