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Sabre last week asked a Tarrant County, Texas, state court
to rescind a temporary restraining order prohibiting the GDS firm from
negatively biasing American's fare displays.
Sabre in court documents claimed that federal law, namely
the Airline Deregulation Act, preempts state courts from interfering in "a
GDS' display of fare and services." American this week disputed that
interpretation in a response and suggested Sabre is using the court to affirm
its legal rights to demote AA fares in search results, as it did briefly in early January.
Sabre noted in court documents that it "has not
subsequently taken any steps to de-preference the display of American's
fares" since the Tarrant County court on Jan. 10 issued the restraining
Asked if Sabre could assure subscribers that it does not
intend to skew American's fares, a spokesperson replied: "We simply want
to be in position to exercise our contractual rights should we need to. Our
focus remains on negotiating a deal with American Airlines that balances the
needs of all constituents."
"If they are indeed intent on vigorously protecting a
transparent market place, why are they fighting so vigorously to preserve their
ability to bias?" asked an American spokesperson by email this week.
While the Department of Transportation in February warned GDSs and online travel agencies about "undisclosed display bias,"
American in court documents this week noted DOT "never said that biasing
is not unfair or deceptive as long as it is disclosed."
The Tarrant County court during a hearing set for June 17
could rule on Sabre's request, according to an American spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Sabre also claimed that American breached
confidentiality provisions in their contract by disclosing booking fees and
other contractual terms in court documents. Those details have been published
by media outlets, including The Beat, and have harmed Sabre's negotiating
stance with at least one other airline, the GDS operator claimed.
American filed those contractual details in its initial
request for the temporary restraining order, but they since have been scrubbed
from the court's public record.
"Subsequent to American's improper disclosure, Sabre
has engaged in contract negotiations with at least one other major
airline," according to Sabre, which did not disclose the airline.
"During those negotiations, this airline, which is a competitor of
American, repeatedly relied on the now-public price that Sabre charges to American
to try to negotiate a better price. The airline argued that it was unwilling to
accept pricing terms less favorable than those obtained by American."
Source: The Beat