The European Commission (EC) has opened an investigation into Sabre and Amadeus to see if the GDSs are restricting competition and, therefore, breaching European Union antitrust rules.

According to the EC, its investigation will focus on terms in the companies' agreements with airlines and travel agencies that could restrict agencies' ability to use other ticket distribution services. 

"This may make it harder for suppliers of new ticket distribution services to enter the market, as well as increase distribution costs for airlines, which are ultimately passed on in the ticket prices paid by consumers," the EC said in a statement. 

Sabre is headquartered in Southlake, Texas. Amadeus is based in Madrid. Competitor Travelport, based in Langley, U.K., is not part of the EC's investigation.

In a statement, Amadeus said it would cooperate with the investigation, "which has been expected for some time."

"The process will confirm that Amadeus' business practices are fully aligned with legal and regulatory requirements," Amadeus said, noting that agents can choose which GDSs they work with (including working with more than one), and airlines can decide what fares they make available inthe GDS.

"Amadeus stands for fairness and neutrality in airline distribution, providing nondiscriminatory and neutral market access for airlines and choice for consumers and travel buyers," the statement said. "It is well documented that the neutral market provided by the GDS is facilitating comparison and choice, thus providing European citizens with competition among airlines resulting in lower ticket prices. Amadeus will continue to make the case forcefully for the need for a strong and neutral marketplace for airline distribution."

Amadeus stands for fairness and neutrality in airline distribution, providing nondiscriminatory and neutral market access for airlines and choice for consumers and travel buyers.

In a statement, Sabre said it "remains committed to offering competitive access for travel agencies to airline content in the Sabre system and delivering solutions that balance value for airlines, agencies, corporations and travelers."

Sabre said it will cooperate with the EC's investigation "and welcome the opportunity to further demonstrate to the commission that our full content agreements and travel agency contracts are pro-competitive."

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