Sabre Holdings Corp., the largest U.S. provider of flight data to travel agents, lost a bid to consolidate antitrust lawsuits brought by AMR Corp. (AMR)’s American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. (LCC)
Centralizing the complaints in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, “would not serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses,” the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation ruled yesterday. Under an MDL program, cases with common factual issues can be consolidated before one judge to streamline document exchanges and avoid duplication in pretrial proceedings.
“Sabre is represented in both actions by common counsel,” the MDL panel said in its ruling. “In these circumstances, we believe an informal cooperation among the involved attorneys is both practicable and preferable.”
US Airways, based in Tempe, Arizona, sued Sabre in federal court in New York. Fort Worth-based American sued Southlake, Texas-based Sabre and rival Travelport LLC in Texas. Both carriers opposed centralization, according to court documents.
The lawsuits are at the heart of a dispute between U.S. carriers and so-called global-distribution systems, such as Sabre, that collect flight and fare data from carriers and distribute it to travel agents. The airlines want greater control over how the data is distributed.
Todd Lehmacher, a US Airways spokesman, declined to comment on the ruling. Nancy St. Pierre, a Sabre spokeswoman, also declined to comment.
“We believe the panel made the right decision, as our case is distinct from the case US Air has brought against Sabre,” Ryan Mikolasik, a spokesman for American with consulting firm Weber Shandwick, said in an e-mail. “We look forward to continuing to pursue our claims against Sabre.”
Sabre and Travelport, the second-biggest U.S.-based global distribution system, control more than 90 percent of the U.S. data sent to travel agents.
AMR rose 3 cents to $2.48 at 11:11 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. US Airways gained 9 cents to $5.44.
The Fort Worth case is American Airlines Inc. v. Travelport Ltd., 11-cv-00244, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth). The Manhattan case is U.S. Airways Inc. v. Sabre Holdings Corp., 11-cv-02725, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).