The Transportation Department on Thursday fined Amadeus $95,000 for its role in a several instances where online travel agents were unwittingly posting flight listings on their websites that did not comply with DOT disclosure rules about codeshare flights.
In several enforcement cases earlier this year, those travel sellers (including AAA, Air Gorilla, Apple Vacations, CheapoAir) paid penalties to the DOT but denied that their violations were intentional, placing the blame on unnamed GDS providers.
In a cease-and-desist order, the DOT said its investigation showed that in several of those cases “Amadeus facilitated and was indirectly responsible for these omissions” because its instructions for customizing its Applications Programming Interface were not “sufficiently obvious.”
The DOT was silent on whether other GDSs have been implicated. In a statement, an Amadeus spokeswoman said that "some online travel agencies had consent orders issued against them by the DOT for violations of codeshare disclosure rules, but not all of them were Amadeus customers, and others were multi-GDS users."
The DOT noted that “many of the subscribers to Amadeus and other GDSs are small businesses with limited resources to devote to technical issues,” adding that by providing customizable software without adequate instructions, Amadeus “facilitated and bears indirect responsibility” for the OTAs violations of the codeshare-disclosure requirement.
Amadeus, without admitting wrongdoing, consented to the $95,000 penalty and also agreed to advise users of its software of the need to ensure compliance, to offer “clear advice” on configuring the software and to give the DOT a written confirmation on those actions within six months.
The Amadeus spokeswoman said, “We believe Amadeus has not violated the DOT regulations which require online travel sellers to display codeshare information to consumers.
“As we stated previously to the marketplace, we believe Amadeus properly facilitated compliance for our online travel agency customers with respect to displaying codeshare information and acted responsibly at all times.”
The spokeswoman said Amadeus will comply with the DOT order “rather than face the possibility of lengthy and expensive litigation over the matter, which could have resulted if the order had not been agreed to by both parties.”
This report was updated Thursday to add Amadeus' comments.