* American Airlines adds Sabre to antitrust suit
* Airline claims “anti-competitive” practices
* Sabre says claim is “baseless” (Adds quotes from AMR and Sabre, background)
CHICAGO, June 1 (Reuters) - American Airlines said on Wednesday it added Sabre Holdings Corp [TSG.UL] to its federal antitrust lawsuit originally filed against Travelport Ltd, which seeks to stop “exclusionary, anti-consumer and anti-competitive” practices.
American Airlines, a unit of AMR Corp AMR.N, filed a lawsuit last month accusing Orbitz Worldwide Inc OWW.N and air fare data provider Travelport of making American’s fares look higher to customers than they were. But it also has been battling Sabre, which owns Travelocity, over how its fares are presented.
“The illegal actions of Sabre and Travelport have harmed consumers and travel agents alike in a number of ways, including suppressing innovation that would enable travel agents to better serve their customers,” American Airlines said in a statement.
American last year stopped listing its fares on Orbitz after the travel agency refused to adopt American’s new technology that would let consumers price their trips based on other factors besides just fares.
Sabre, which operates a global distribution system that sends airline fare information to travel agents, was once a unit of American Airlines. Sabre said the lawsuit is “baseless and without merit.”
“We intend to aggressively defend against AA’s lawsuit, pursue our own legal rights, and take appropriate action to protect consumers’ right to a transparent marketplace in which travelers can quickly and conveniently comparison shop among all competing airlines,” Sabre said in an e-mailed statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, Sabre filed a motion to intervene in American Airlines’ antitrust lawsuit against Travelport. As part of that motion, the company claimed that American is engaging in “anti-competitive conduct” to maintain a monopoly position over air transportation between its U.S. hubs and Caribbean cities.
US Airways Group Inc LCC.N also has claimed in a lawsuit that Sabre shuts out competition and drives up prices. Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division is probing whether third-party ticket-sellers have violated antitrust law, with American Airlines, US Airways and Sabre saying they have been contacted as part of the investigation.
American said that in addition to requesting injunctive relief from the defendants’ actions, the airline seeks unspecified monetary damages.
The suit is American Airlines, Inc, vs. Sabre, Inc, a Delaware corporation; Sabre Holdings Corporation, a Delaware corporation and Sabre Travel International Ltd, a foreign corporation, d/b/a Sabre Travel Network; Travelport Limited, a foreign corporation, and Travelport, LP, and Orbitz Worldwide, LLC No. 4:11-cv-00244-Y in United States District Court for the Northern District Of Texas Fort Worth Division.
Reporting by Kyle Peterson; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Richard Chang