Travelport claims court win over American Airlines

AP News
Posted: Nov 22, 2011 1:44 PM
Travelport claims court win over American Airlines

Travelport Ltd. Said Tuesday that a federal judge tossed out most of American Airlines' antitrust lawsuit against the flight-information provider and online travel agent Orbitz.

Travelport, which owns nearly half of Orbitz, said the judge dismissed American's claims that the company monopolizes distribution of airline fare and flight information to travel agents.

American said, however, that the judge allowed its main antitrust claims to proceed. The ruling was issued by a U.S. district court in Fort Worth, Texas, where American is based.

Along with its stake in Orbitz, Travelport runs other companies called global distribution systems that provide airline information to travel agents. American wants to provide information about flights directly to travel agents and cut out the middleman in many cases.

The outcome could change the way airline tickets are sold to business travelers, who are more likely than vacationers to use a travel agent.

American argues it can tailor information more to business travelers' needs _ for example by sending them offers about destinations or amenities that they've bought before. The distribution companies claim that American wants to push them out of the way and reduce competition.

American, a unit of AMR Corp., filed the antitrust lawsuit against Travelport, Orbitz and another distribution company, Sabre, in April.

Travelport said Tuesday that the judge dismissed four of American's claims, including that Travelport monopolized distribution of flight information to travel agencies and conspired with travel agencies to control ticket distribution.

Atlanta-based Travelport predicted it would win on the one remaining American charge _ that Travelport monopolizes access to travel agents who subscribe to Travelport's services.

American claimed that the judge's ruling would let it go ahead with claims against Sabre, and separate claims "that Sabre and Travelport each has unlawfully monopolized the market for the provision of airline booking services to their respective subscribers."

In afternoon trading AMR shares fell 5 cents to $1.69. Orbitz Worldwide Inc. rose 2 cents to $2.92.