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Travelport Ltd., an operator of global airfare distribution systems, lacks competitive standing to pursue claims that American Airlines Inc. is monopolizing certain air-travel routes, a U.S. judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Terry Means in Fort Worth, Texas, today threw out the antitrust counterclaims Travelport was pressing in the year-old lawsuit with the airline owned by bankrupt AMR Corp.
Travelport, owner of the Galileo, Apollo and Worldspan flight data and reservation systems, alleged American was using its dominance of some air travel routes and near dominance of others to foist its AA Direct Connect electronic booking service upon travel agents and restraining trade.
“The competitors in these markets are airlines and the consumers are travel agents and passengers,” Means said in his 10-page ruling. “Travelport is neither.”
The case is part of a dispute triggered by Fort Worth-based American’s move to provide information directly to travel agents rather than going through data providers such as Travelport.
“The court did not reach the substantive merits of Travelport’s allegations,” Travelport Chief Legal Officer Eric Bock said in an e-mailed statement.
“Essentially the court held that Travelport was not the appropriate party to defend consumers and travel agents against the allege harm caused by AA’s monopolistic conduct,” Bock said. “We are still analyzing the opinion and our options.”
American first filed suit in the Fort Worth federal court in April 2011. Means in November gave the carrier permission to file a second revised complaint. That document was filed under seal on Dec. 5.
Dismissal motions were later filed by Atlanta-based Travelport and global distribution system operators Sabre Holdings Corp. and Orbitz Worldwide LLC.
“These were meritless claims intended to take the focus off of the anticompetitive conduct of Travelport and Sabre,” American Airlines said in an e-mailed statement.
“We remain open to amicably resolving our claims against the defendants, which remain pending, but absent an agreement that ends the anticompetitive practices and accounts for the harm done to American, we will continue to pursue our legal rights,” the carrier said.
The case is American Airlines Inc. v. Travelport Ltd., 11- cv-00244, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth).
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