The U.S. Justice Department is currently investigating whether third-party online ticket sellers have violated antitrust law.
The investigation targets Global Distribution Systems (GDS), which aggregate and repackage air travel inventory for travel agencies. Travelport, the parent company of Orbitz, and Sabre, which owns Travelocity, is the largest GDS in the U.S.
On Friday, American Airlines announced it received a Civil Investigation Document (CID) requesting the release of information relevant to the government investigation. Delta Air Lines and US Airways have also confirmed receipt of a CID.
Delta, American, US Airways, Travelport, and Sabre have released statements that they are cooperating fully with the investigation.
Airlines and the GDS are at odds over the cost of their service and consumer access. Airlines have been hoping to reduce the fees they pay the travel reservation systems to display their flights and handle their reservations in an attempt to lower their distribution costs.
This investigation comes on the heels of American Airlines’ lawsuit against Travelport. The suit filed last month accuses Orbitz of antitrust behavior in which American’s fares appear more expensive to customers.
Prior to the lawsuit, American stopped listing its fares on Orbitz last year in a dispute regarding new fare search and display technology. American also has filed a lawsuit against Sabre, which is currently on hold.
Last month, US Airways filed a lawsuit against Sabre, accusing the company of violating antitrust laws. It is worth noting that more than 35 percent of US Airways’ revenue comes from Sabre and Sabre-affiliated travel agents.
The Justice Department’s antitrust investigation is expected to take at least a year.
Experts are watching to see if the hold on the American-Sabre lawsuit will be lifted on June 1. Whether or not the two companies will be able to negotiate a resolution will be the first milestone in the dispute between the airlines and the GDS.
By Lily J. Kosner for PeterGreenberg.com.
Related Links on PeterGreenberg.com:
- American Airlines Files Anti-Trust Lawsuit Against Orbitz
- American Airlines Fare Listings Return To Expedia, Hotwire
- Orbitz Shares Fall As Battle With American Airlines Continues
- American Airlines Allies With Priceline In Dispute With Sabre, Travelport
- News Analysis: What The Battle Between American Airlines & Online Travel Agencies Means for Travelers
- American Wins Injunction Against Sabre As Booking Wars Continue
- Delta, American Airlines Pull Fares From Some Third-Party Web Sites
- Air Travel News: Airlines & Airports section