Fareportal, parent of OTAs CheapOAir and One Travel, filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that JetBlue Airways violated antitrust laws by withholding participation in OTAs, including Fareportal's, to prevent consumers from easily comparing its fares to other airlines. JetBlue dismissed the merits of the suit on Thursday.
The suit further contends that JetBlue is doing so to raise fares on routes it dominates, specifically citing New York, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Boston, Los Angeles and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The airline required Fareportal to remove its flight and pricing information as of Jan. 5, when its previous agreement with the OTA ended. Fareportal said in a statement that JetBlue previously "blocked a dozen other OTAs from displaying" its content "as part of a strategy to turn back the clock and return to the good old days before OTAs," and force consumers to book through its own website.
The lawsuit further states that "JetBlue is also prepared to suffer short-term losses because it is using taxpayer dollars to defray them" by "taking handouts from American taxpayers in the form of Covid relief. JetBlue is already set to receive over $685 million in direct support from American taxpayers and up to $1.14 billion in loans from the U.S. Treasury under the Cares Act and is poised to receive even more."
JetBlue said the Fareportal suit was "frivolous."
"It is common industry practice for airlines to choose where to sell their products," the carrier said. "We are currently one of several major airlines not selling via Fareportal's platforms.
More than 10 metasearch and OTAs offer customers the ability to compare JetBlue fares, the airline added.