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American Accuses Sabre of Staging a Flight Bookings Boycott

Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- American Airlines Inc. accused Sabre Inc. of fueling a secret and collusive boycott of its business in order to preserve the flight data listing service’s alleged monopoly power.

The AMR Corp. carrier made the allegation in a revised complaint it filed against Sabre today in state court in Fort Worth, Texas. American in January added Sabre to a lawsuit it first filed there in November against the flight data service Travelport Ltd.

Sabre has used “secret collusive boycott agreements,” anti-competitive contracts and punitive actions to dissuade travel agencies and corporate travel departments from booking American flights through Sabre’s system, according to the filing.

“Sabre’s motive for its orchestrated attacks is clear,” Fort Worth-based American said. “Sabre intends to coerce American into abandoning its effort to modernize and streamline the costly legacy system for distributing American’s travel data.”

Claiming antitrust law violations, American sued Southlake, Texas-based Sabre last year. The carrier alleged the data service was interfering with its business, entitling the airline to money damages.

Sabre, Travelocity.com

Once owned by American and now a unit of Sabre Holdings Corp., Sabre is the largest U.S.-based global distributor of fare data and the parent of online travel agent Travelocity.com. It is also the airline’s biggest non-direct source of bookings.

Sabre Holdings is owned by Sovereign Holdings Inc., TPG Capital and Silver Lake Management LLC.

“Sabre denies the allegations and this is yet another example of American Airlines distorting the facts and trying to use the courts to negotiate a new contract,” Nancy St. Pierre, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail. “We remain willing and committed to negotiating a new distribution agreement that meets the needs of all constituents whenever the airline is ready.”

American Vice President for Global Sales Derek DeCross, in a letter to travel agents and corporate travel managers on Aug. 30, said Sabre would continue distributing its flight data for 14 days after the legal dispute is resolved.

Portions of today’s American filing are blacked out, concealing the identities of travel agents with whom Sabre is allegedly conspiring.

The case is American Airlines Inc. v. Sabre Inc., 067-249214-10, in the Judicial District of Tarrant County, Texas, 67th Judicial District (Fort Worth).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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