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US Airways on Thursday
filed a federal antitrust lawsuit in New York against Sabre that seeks "to
halt anticompetitive and anticonsumer practices, as well as recover monetary
damages," the carrier announced. US Airways does not expect the litigation
to immediately impact the display or availability of its fares through Sabre
US Airways revealed its
suit in a sharply worded press release, in which it alleges that Sabre
"has engaged in a pattern of exclusionary conduct to shut out competition,
protect its monopoly pricing power, and maintain its technologically obsolete business
US Airways claimed that
more than 35 percent of its revenue is booked through Sabre-connected channels,
without which it "would not be able to survive."
Sabre in a statement noted
it is "reviewing the details of their legal claims" and "will
have further comment when appropriate."
US Airways and Sabre this
year agreed to a new content deal, and the announcement itself was a source of US Airways discontent. The extent of US Airways' disputes with Sabre is further
detailed in Thursday's announcement.
"anticompetitive requirements placed on US Airways and other airlines in
order to sell their tickets," the carrier alleged Sabre has "hurt
consumers through higher prices, reduced innovation and fewer choices."
US Airways claimed the GDS
"imposes significant economic penalties on travel agents relating to
bookings not made using Sabre" and "has been aggressive in
suppressing the ability of travel agents to book tickets directly with
airlines" through direct connect technologies. US Airways also claimed
Sabre's incentive structure for agencies "lessens competition" and
"increases barriers for competition by providing a portion of the fees it
receives from airlines to travel agents."
"In order to receive
the highest financial incentive, Sabre effectively forces Sabre travel agents
to work with Sabre, which prevents the travel agents from working more closely
and collaboratively with other distribution alternatives," US Airways
claimed in the press release. "Sabre has further engrained itself in other
aspects of travel agencies, such as fulfillment and billing functions, which
creates further barriers for the growth of better, more cost-effective
US Airways claimed that
during negotiations with Sabre, the carrier "sought a new contract without
exclusionary restrictions that protect Sabre from competition," according
to US Airways. "However, Sabre threatened to shut off access to US Airways
if the new agreement did not include these anticompetitive restrictions. According
to the complaint, US Airways was forced to acquiesce to Sabre's 'my way or the
highway' demands as a part of any new deal."
"The airline industry and other technology services providers have
become more efficient, yet Sabre's conduct has enabled it to charge inflated
prices with outdated technology that was developed before the Internet
existed," according to statement attributed to US Airways President Scott
Kirby. "Lower-cost, more technologically-advanced alternatives and
innovative fare products are being shut out by Sabre's actions."