Yet more legal shenanigans from the US with American Airlines filing an antitrust action at Travelport and Orbitz over the ongoing Direct-Connect issue.
The carrier, which has been involved in a dizzying array of legal actions with the pair over recent months, issued the complaint filed in a federal court in Texas, US, late-yesterday citing concerns over the anticompetitive nature of the GDS and online travel agency's distribution agreements.
The suit says:
"Travelport effectively controls the distribution of airline tickets to a large number of business travelers. Travelport and Orbitz have entered into agreements with one another and with others to exclude competition and maintain Travelport’s monopoly power."
Orbitz has hit back in a statement issued this morning, claiming the suit is "baseless" and the "latest in a series of tactics to force Orbitz to adopt an airline ticket distribution model that limits consumer choice and inhibits competition".
An official says the agency will "defend itself with vigour and is leaving all possible options to seek relief from American Airlines' predatory actions.
Travelport says the lawsuit contains "significant inaccuracies", including Galileo's operations in the US, where it doesn't operate.
A statement adds:
"The complaint also finds fault with Travelport/AA’s longstanding distribution agreement - through which AA benefits from significant discounts - some five years after its initiation and at a time of renewal. In unsuccessful negotiations and now in litigation, AA seeks to limit consumer choice in shopping for fares and to limit consumer access to other relevant data.
"Travelport’s aggregation, search and shopping allows travel agents and consumers a full range of choices across over 400 airlines. Travelport believes that AA’s plans to force a more restrictive distribution model would result in inefficiencies and considerable added costs ultimately to be paid by consumers."
Orbitz has accused the airline of being a bully in the marketplace over the famed Direct-Connect model it introduced to establish a new distribution system for fares, availability and ancillary services.
In the lawsuit, American Airlines says Orbitz-Travelport have engaged in a "broad and unlawful multi-part anticompetitive scheme" in response to Direct-Connect.
"Travelport has engaged in various forms of unlawful exclusionary conduct intended to significantly limit the incentive and ability of its travel agent subscribers to shift bookings among different providers of airline booking services in response to ordinary market forces.
"In doing so, Travelport has ensured that American and other network airlines that rely on travel agents to distribute tickets are dependent upon Travelport to access the critical group of travel agents that subscribe to Travelport’s GDSs. In this way, Travelport has obtained and maintained monopoly power over American and other network airlines."