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American and Orbitz settle litigation over antitrust claims

Apr 01, 2013 10:23 am

Skift Take

American’s agreement with Orbitz is the third and last settlement in a lawsuit filed by the airline claiming that the OTA, alongside Sabre and Travelport, were guilty of anticompetitive practices.

— Samantha Shankman

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AMR Corp.’s American Airlines and Orbitz Worldwide LLC settled their litigation …

The airline and the online travel reservation service issued a joint statement today saying they had resolved lawsuits between them. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

Orbitz, based in Chicago, was the last remaining defendant in a lawsuit filed by American in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, accusing it, Sabre Holdings Corp. and Travelport LP of conspiring to block the airline’s entry into electronic flight- data and reservations market.

“The settlement requires review and approval by the court presiding over AMR Corporation’s restructuring,” the companies said in the statement, declining to comment further.

AMR filed for U.S. bankruptcy court protection in New York in 2011. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane last week approved the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline’s proposed merger with U.S. Airways Group Inc.

The combined companies will constitute the world’s largest carrier and operate under the American Airlines name. Lane’s approval moves American a step closer to finishing its reorganization and exiting bankruptcy protection.

Orbitz in February lost a bid to enforce what it claimed was an agreement to resolve the antitrust litigation with American. The airline denied any deal had been completed.

‘Signed Agreement’

“While this court certainly encourages settlement agreements, it simply is disinclined to enforce anything short of a final, signed agreement,” U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means said in a Feb. 12 ruling.

The accord described in court then by Orbitz lawyer Christopher Yates called for no payment to either party, mutual releases from liability and his client’s agreement to provide American with information it could use against other defendants, Yates said in court.

In exchange, the airline would drop the case against Orbitz, Yates said.

Airline lawyer Paul Yetter had told Means the deal was never completed.

American settled its litigation with Sabre in October and with Travelport last month.

The case is American Airlines v. Travelport Ltd., 11-cv- 00244, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth).

With assistance from David McLaughlin in New York. Editors: Andrew Dunn and Charles Carter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in the Chicago federal courthouse at aharris16@bloomberg.net. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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