Skift Take

Armageddon is postponed for now as Expedia and United are conducting discussions to work out their contractual differences. Cooler heads apparently prevailed.

It appears as though United Airlines will not remove some of its flights from Expedia Group websites on Monday, as was threatened.

Expedia Group said Friday that United has agreed not to take any actions that would cut off the online travel agency’s short-term access to United flights as the two parties are “discussing a mutually agreeable schedule pursuant to which they litigate any dispute between them.” Earlier in the week, Expedia filed suit against United in federal court over contractual issues that neither party wanted to discuss in detail.

Later on Friday, after Expedia made its statement, United confirmed it will not remove its fares from Expedia this month. According to Expedia, United had threatened to pull them as soon as next week.

“We’ve reached an agreement that we are not going to turn off Expedia’s access to flights for travel after Sept. 30, 2019 while this dispute plays out in court in the coming weeks,” the statement said. “United’s fares remain available on Expedia sites.”

However, United said it still intends to remove its fares from the company’s platforms on Oct. 1, when a agreement between Expedia and the airline expires. And it warned customers that if they book tickets now for travel beginning in October Expedia may not be able to make changes for them.

“United expects that our fares will not be listed on Expedia sites in the U.S. and Canada effective Oct. 1 which is why we remain concerned about the negative impact on customers who book tickets via Expedia for travel after Sept. 30 since Expedia will not be able to service customers traveling after the expiration date,” the statement said.

In a statement, Expedia Group said it endorses the short-term detente between the two parties.

“Expedia Group and United Airlines are currently discussing a mutually agreeable schedule pursuant to which they will litigate any dispute between them,” the statement said. “Importantly, United Airlines has agreed not to take any action that would restrict Expedia Group’s access while those discussions are ongoing. We look forward to a successful outcome and until a decision is made, we are happy to continue to offer customers our wide range of publicly available airfares and flight options they’ve come to expect from our leading portfolio of travel brands.”

The dispute between United and Expedia came out into the open Monday when Expedia sued United in the Southern District of New York, alleging that United was interfering with the online travel agency’s ability to service its customers. United had threatened to remove some of its flights from Expedia’s websites on Monday, February 11.

United apparently has been trying to renegotiate its current distribution agreement with Expedia, which is seemingly slated to expire September 30. United informed Expedia it would be removing Expedia’s access to United’s flights where travel would take place October 1 and later.

Expedia said in its lawsuit that it had already sold 2,000 seats on United planes for travel starting October 1, and that it wouldn’t be able to take care of its customers if they needed to change or cancel flights after that date as United was set to remove access to those flights.

On Monday, United issued a statement about its dispute with Expedia but didn’t get into the details about the underlying issues.

United stated February 4, prior to today’s peace talks: “For months, Expedia has refused to engage in constructive discussions with United about a new contract and United currently expects that our fares will not be listed on Expedia sites in the U.S. and Canada effective Oct. 1, 2019,” United said.

“Out of concern for the growing number of customers at risk, we sent Expedia a letter last week, months in advance of the expiration date, formally notifying Expedia that United intends to prohibit Expedia from booking tickets for travel October 1 and beyond,” United added.

This story was updated late Friday with comment from United Airlines.


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Tags: expedia, negotiations, united airlines

Photo credit: A United Airlines aircraft. Bloomberg

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