GDS Antitrust Lawsuit To Proceed, But Not As Quickly As AA Would Like

A Texas district court this week denied Travelport's request to dismiss American Airlines' antitrust suit, which since its original filing has grown to also include Sabre as a defendant. Though it will proceed, the suit won't move as quickly as AA would like, as the judge also denied the carrier's request to expedite proceedings.

In seeking dismissal, Travelport argued that its dispute with AA relates to the preferred fares amendment in their contract, which "contains a forum-selection clause requiring all actions arising out of the PFA to be brought in a federal or state court in Cook County, Illinois," according to a July 26 order by U.S. district judge Terry Means. Means, however, noted that the scope of the case is larger than that single agreement, as it includes other parties, broad antitrust allegations and what the judge called "a multitude of anticompetitive and exclusionary practices that have allegedly occurred on an industry-wide scale."

"Accordingly, Travelport’s motion to dismiss or transfer is denied," Means ordered.

The court this week, however, did not come down entirely on AA's side, denying the carrier's request to expedite proceedings against Sabre and Travelport so the court could more promptly consider prohibiting the GDSs from biasing fares or raising transaction fees. AA in court documents indicated those actions could happen "as early as August, when amendments to certain distribution agreements with Travelport and Sabre begin to expire." The Worldspan-American full-content agreement is the first such deal set to expire--at midnight on July 31.

Means noted that American's request to expedite discovery is "based largely on its speculation as to how the defendants will respond to the expiration of certain contract amendments later this summer," according to a separate July 26 order by the judge. As such, the request was deemed "premature."

"Should the events of the upcoming months unfold as American anticipates, then American may renew its request for relief at that time," Means noted.