Court Orders American Airlines to List Flights on Orbitz

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American Airlines, which removed its flights from Orbitz.com late last year, was ordered by a Chicago court on Thursday to allow the travel site access to its flight and fare information.


American Airlines filed an anti-trust suit against Travelport in December, claiming that the company, which owns just under half of Orbitz's shares and runs the service compiling fare information for travel site, was trying to control the sale of tickets. Before the lawsuit, a considerable amount of American's revenue had been coming from tickets booked through Orbitz and Travelport.


In a statement the airline reacted to the injunctive relief by saying: "We fundamentally disagree with [the judge's] conclusion. We want to underscore that this is the exact opposite conclusion than that of the judge who heard the evidence," and pointing out that the actual case has yet to be decided.


Orbitz rebutted with a statement describing the court triumph as "a win for transparency, consumer choice and for all of our mutual customers."


American has long seemed eager to reach out more directly to travel agents in order to gain better access to customers and avoid paying fees to third party aggregators (called Global Distribution Systems). The airline created a service last year to provide GDS-style information directly to, among other agents, Priceline.


The battle between Orbitz and American heated up recently when the airline ran a 30-second spot on CNN, TNT, Discover, MSNBC and ESPN showing a confused traveler watching flights drop off a departures board and pointing out that Americans flights were no longer listed on the popular fare comparison site. That advertisement is no longer viewable on American's YouTube channel and content crowing over the removal of American flights from Orbitz appears to have been scrubbed from AA.com.


At the time the suit was filed, some experts speculated that the legal action was really just a bargaining gambit aimed at moving the needle on booking fees.


The Wall Street Journal reports that most travel sites like Orbitz received $8 to $10 for every ticket sold, but that those prices have been decreasing rapidly.


But costs are apparently not coming down fast enough for American, which added major GDS Sabre Holding Corp. to its federal lawsuit on Wednesday. Interestingly, Sabre spun off of American Airlines in 2000.



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