An attempt from Sabre, Travelport and Orbitz to have an antitrust claim made against them by American Airlines dismissed has been blocked by a US Federal judge.
This latest twist is part of a long drawn out tale which began in April 2011 when the carrier filed the antitrust suit against Travelport and Orbitz, adding Sabre to the claim later.
At the time American Airlines cited concerns over the anti-competitive nature of the GDS's and online travel agency's distribution agreements.
While the airline's initial complaint was initially knocked back by a judge, it was allowed to submit a second amended complaint in which it alleges "an industry-wide conspiracy to preserve the GDSs market power".
The US District Judge has said Sabre, Travelport and Orbitz must face the antitrust claims and found that the carrier had 'stated a plausible section 2 conspiracy to monopolize claim' and had 'adequately pleaded the existence of a conspiracy'.
Anchoring American's conspiracy allegation are facts that, taken as true and construed in American's favor, support a reasonable inference of an industry-wide conspiracy between Sabre, Travelport, Orbitz and other travel agencies and trade associations.
A Sabre spokesperson says:
"There was no decision on the merits of the claims. The judge did not say American’s claims were valid, only that American had made allegations sufficient to meet the minimal pleading requirements of federal court.
"We will continue to vigorously defend ourselves against these baseless and meritless claims. We look forward to our first opportunity to present evidence about the real facts."
Last week the same judge granted a motion from the airline to dismiss antitrust claims against the carrier made by Travelport.
Tnooz has also contacted Travelport for comment.
An official from American Airlines says:
"The court’s order confirms that American has adequately pleaded numerous antitrust claims against the defendants, including monopolization and conspiracy claims.
"We would prefer to resolve our dispute with the defendants amicably, but any such resolutions need to end anticompetitive practices and to account for the harm done to American. We are convinced these claims have substantial merit, and absent settlements, we intend to continue vigorously pursuing our legal rights."
NB: Court image courtesy of Shutterstock.