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American awarded $5.1 million in US Airways-Sabre lawsuit

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Published: December 22, 2016

American Airlines has been awarded $ 5.1 million by a US federal jury in an antitrust lawsuit against global distribution system provider Sabre, a total that will be tripled to $ 15.3 million under the terms of US antitrust law.

The case stems to a lawsuit filed in 2011 by Phoenix-based US Airways, which merged with Dallas/Fort Worth-based American in 2013. In the lawsuit, filed in April 2011, US Airways said Sabre had “engaged in a pattern of exclusionary conduct to shut out competition, protect its monopoly pricing power, and maintain its technologically obsolete business model.”

Following the verdict in New York Dec. 20, American said it was pleased the jury agreed with its position. “We have long contended that the contractual provisions at issue—provisions that Sabre has made a condition to participate in its global distribution system—have reinforced Sabre’s market power, stymied competition, and harmed us and the travelers we serve,” the airline said in a statement, adding, “Now that the jury has agreed with us, we hope to see changes in the way our services are sold, and we expect technology and innovation will create even better and more transparent ways for us to distribute our products.”

Southlake, Texas-based Sabre plans to appeal the verdict. It said in a statement that the jury had “sorted through a complicated case that involved hypothetical economic theories, intricate technology discussions, and months of testimony,” adding, “We continue to believe we operated fairly and lawfully in an extremely competitive marketplace as Sabre provides efficient distribution, innovative technology and transparency that benefits suppliers, travel agents and consumers alike.”

Sabre has asked the court to set aside the verdict pending an appeal. “Sabre believes it acted lawfully and fairly, and we do not anticipate any impact to existing offerings,” the company said.

Aaron Karp aaron.karp@penton.com

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