Travelport revealed it will enter court-ordered mediation with American Airlines in May and separately Sabre disclosed it has already begun the process with the airline.
Eric Bock, Travelport's chief legal officer, dropped the news at the end of a Travelport fourth quarter and full-year 2011 earnings conference call today.
"We are looking forward to the mediation process and we hope it bears fruit," said Bock, who indicated that the litigation with American Airlines continues.
Bock noted that some of American Airlines' claims in the antitrust litigation have already been dismissed and he contended that the others are without merit.
Asked what would happen if American Airlines and Travelport can't come to terms and the airline's content eventually is absent from Travelport's global distribution systems, Gordon Wilson, Travelport's president and CEO, tried to downplay the potential impact.
"Suffice it to say if American Airlines wasn't in our system, people would book other airlines," Wilson said.
Of course, that supposition doesn't really mesh with other statements during the earnings call: Officials said that their 2011 performance was adversely impacted by the fact that American Airlines was not available for more than half of 2011 on the websites of Orbitz Worldwide, Travelport's largest online travel agency customer.
Meanwhile, Sabre spokesperson Nancy St. Pierre, in response to an inquiry, disposed that Sabre, which is also involved with antitrust litigation with American Airlines, has already started court-ordered mediation with the airline.
American Airlines issued a statement about the mediations:
AA intends to engage in mediation with both Sabre and Travelport. The parties are retaining very skilled and experienced mediators, and we hope that this process will assist in reaching a fair and reasonable resolution to the current disputes.
We have always said we would prefer a negotiated resolution, but the position of the parties and the seriousness of the global distribution systems’ illegal conduct have made that difficult. We intend to put a great deal of effort into the mediation, with the hope that it will close the substantial gaps that exist in the parties’ current positions.
In other developments, Travelport saw its fourth quarter net loss increase to $82 million from $69 million a year earlier. Revenue during the fourth quarter increased 2.9% to $465 million.
The fourth quarter results were impacted by a $35 million charge related to two adverse arbitration decisions related to distribution arrangement with former partners in the Middle East.
Officials said the results for the full year 2011, which were impacted by the re-introduction of a bonus plan for employees, and the fourth quarter were in line with expectations.
In another wrinkle, Travelport revealed that the annual financial impact from losing United Airlines' hosting business will likely be $60 million to $70 million, and not the previously estimated $40 to $60 million.
Officials said they are in negotiations with United and hope to recoup a portion of the business through interline and other IT services, although they indicated the outcome of the negotiations is uncertain.
Travelport also noted that it has increased its GDS market share in the US, the world's largest travel market, to 40%, its highest share since 2008.