Sabre pushes back at American Airlines over storefront lawsuit

Sabre has responded to American Airlines’ lawsuit seeking to block Sabre from using its New Airline Storefront display, calling the suit “a knee-jerk reaction to press releases about innovation that AA could not control.”

Sabre filed its response on July 23, stating, “With a palpable fear of falling further behind, AA has resorted to litigation rather than innovation.”

In its lawsuit, American alleges Sabre’s New Airline Storefront (NAS) display biases GDS search results toward another carrier, Delta. In addition to seeking to block the use of the NAS display, American also wants a Texas court to block Sabre from paying travel agent incentives on high-value Delta tickets that are larger than those paid on similar American tickets.

American claims Sabre’s arrangement with Delta — which helped it develop the NAS display — breaches American’s contract with the GDS, incentivizing travel advisors to sell Delta premium products instead of American’s.

Sabre claims it did not breach any contract with American. Instead, a new storefront was a priority for airlines and agents because of the increasing complexity of airfares, Sabre wrote in its response. The NAS display is more transparent than previous search displays because it reveals more information, Sabre argued.

Further, Sabre wrote that it “offered AA a similar value-based fee agreement” for travel agent incentives. “It is unclear why AA now complains that the deal that is also available to it somehow results in a biased system in favor of Delta.”

In a statement, Kristin Hays, Sabre’s senior vice president of global communications, reiterated that Sabre denies American’s allegations and will defend the lawsuit.

“It is clear that AA has little interest in innovating, transforming or moving the travel industry forward,” she said. “Rather, AA is taking actions — like this lawsuit — to try to limit innovation and transparency for the consumer. To allege that Sabre’s New Airline Storefront favors Delta’s products over AA’s is simply untrue. The real beneficiary of this new innovative approach is the consumer, which now has increased transparency and better comparison shopping as airline offers become increasingly complex.”

American in a statement said it stands by the lawsuit. It is not opposed to distribution systems with improved transparency, the carrier said, but it does not believe Sabre’s NAS display is accomplishing that goal.

“For years American has been asking Sabre to implement new technologies that are consistent with industry standards and are being used by other global distribution systems,” American said. “To date, Sabre has failed to implement this new technology, but we remain hopeful that they will finally do so and catch up with other distributors. In the meantime, Sabre’s new display falls far short of providing a platform that provides accurate and transparent information to consumers, and as alleged in American’s lawsuit, is fundamentally incomplete and biased.”

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