A federal jury on Tuesday awarded US Airways (now American
Airlines) $5.1 million in damages in its lawsuit against Sabre, agreeing with
the carrier that provisions in Sabre's contract were anticompetitive.
However, the jury did not agree with US Airways' antitrust
claim that Sabre colluded with Amadeus and Travelport.
The split verdict comes more than five years after US
Airways filed its lawsuit against Sabre in April 2011.
Sabre said in a statement Tuesday that it plans to challenge
"To the extent the court declines to grant the motion
to set aside the verdict, we will pursue an appeal," Sabre said.
The lawsuit alleged Sabre used "its massive power over
airlines such as US Airways to entrench its antiquated and inefficient
technological systems, to preserve its supra-competitive booking fees, and to
US Airways alleged that Sabre held "monopoly power"
and forced the airline to enter into a contract with the GDS "that
contains numerous oppressive and anticompetitive terms designed by Sabre to
harm competition and entrench Sabre's dominance." The contract required
the carrier to provide Sabre with "full content."
Judge Lorna Schofield of the U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of New York handed the case to the jury last week after an
eight-week trial. During the trial, US Airways argued that it had no choice but
to accept the terms of its contract with Sabre, as more than one-third of its
revenue came through the GDS. The airline was seeking a minimum of $44 million
"The jury sorted through a complicated case that
involved hypothetical economic theories, intricate technology discussions, and
months of testimony," Sabre said on Tuesday. "We continue to believe
we operated fairly and lawfully in an extremely competitive marketplace."
In a statement, American Airlines said, "We are very
pleased with the jury's decision and greatly appreciate the time and effort
they expended during the course of this eight-week trial. We have long
contended that the contractual provisions at issue -- provisions that Sabre has
made a condition to participate in its global distribution system -- have
reinforced Sabre's market power, stymied competition, and harmed us and the
travelers we serve. Now that the jury has agreed with us, we hope to see changes
in the way our services are sold, and we expect technology and innovation will
create even better and more transparent ways for us to distribute our products."
Sabre said it will continue to work with American Airlines.