Orbitz Calls American Airlines Fare Suit 'Baseless'

Orbitz (NYSE:OWW) said on Wednesday that a lawsuit recently filed by American Airlines (NYSE:AMR) against the online travel agency and business services company Travelport was baseless and another attempt by the airline to force Orbtiz to adopt its distribution system.

In the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Texas, American Airlines accused Orbtiz and Travelport, which owns a 48% stake in the online agency, for using monopoly power to impose anticompetitive terms and conditions on airlines.

The lawsuit said that Travelport doubled American’s booking fees for reservations made outside the U.S. and intentionally misrepresented its fares in a manner that made them appear more expensive than they actually were.

In a statement, though, Orbtiz said the claim was baseless and just another in a series of tactics forcing Orbitz to adopt an airline ticket distribution model that limits consumer choice and inhibits competition.

“It is important to keep the facts straight. American Airlines made the decision to play the role of the marketplace bully and pull its fares from Orbitz,” the travel agency said. “Having failed to force Orbitz to adopt unproven technology that does not meet the needs of our customers, American Airlines is now resorting to groundless litigation in a desperate attempt to revive an unsuccessful strategy.”

Travelport said it believed the move by American would violate its contractual obligations.

This is the second time American attempted to full its fares from a travel site. It previously stopped offering tickets on Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), though last week it announced a compromise with the agency that will allow Expedia to tap into the airline’s own connection system, and subsequently restarted listing its fares.

Similarly, American has been trying to force Orbitz to use a direct link to the airline’s inventory instead of a third-party global distribution service that negotiates prices.