How will the American Airlines bankruptcy filing impact the airline's disputes with Sabre and Travelport?
There has been much conjecture on how it will all play out, but Sabre now says that American Airlines' two antitrust lawsuits against Sabre could be resolved before the airline reorganizes and emerges from bankruptcy.
That nugget emerged as Sabre filed a motion in bankruptcy court December 8 to enable it to make counter-claims against American Airlines in federal and state court proceedings in Texas.
If Sabre's motion is granted -- and it says American Airlines is onboard with it -- the bankruptcy court in New York would grant Sabre relief from an automatic stay against such legal actions which the airline would normally get because its parent filed for Chapter 11 protection.
Sabre says American Airlines' state and federal antitrust lawsuits are on a fast-track and could be resolved before the airline reorganizes.
"Granting stay relief benefits American's creditors because it ensures a timely resolution of the litigation, which will likely occur before American emerges from Chapter 11, or even before creditors vote on a plan of reorganization," Sabre's motion said. "Indeed, granting relief permits the parties to expeditiously determine their liabilities and provides certainty to other creditors in the reorganization process."
In the state court lawsuit in Tarrant County, Texas, pretrial hearings are slated for June 11, 2012, Sabre says.
And, Sabre has a legal army working on the case, noting it "has employed over 100 attorneys in connection with discovery alone" in the state case.
There have been developments in the federal antitrust case in the last few days, as well.
American Airlines on December 5 filed a second amended complaint against Sabre, Travelport and Orbitz in the airline's federal antitrust case in Fort Worth, Texas.
It's impossible to tell what new ground American Airlines is trying to cover in its amended antitrust case against its two global distribution partners because the complaint has been sealed by the court.
Last month, the judge in the federal case threw out several claims against Travelport, Sabre and Orbitz in American Airlines' initial complaint.
It is interesting that Orbitz is included as a defendant in American's second amended complaint in the federal case because the judge terminated Orbitz as a defendant in the original complaint.
In the federal case, pretrial motions are due by June 15, 2012, Sabre says.
Sabre and American, which saw one of their contracts expire in August, have agreed to a status quo regarding commercial actions against one another until the court cases are resolved.
The hope -- among some, at least -- is that court verdicts will break the impasses in their negotiations.