American Airlines Sues Orbitz in Online Travel Booking Dispute

April 13, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

American Airlines parent company AMR Corp. has sued travel bookings website Orbitz Worldwide and its booking distribution company, in the latest development in an increasingly acrimonies row between airlines and travel booking sites. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images )
American Airlines parent company AMR Corp. has sued travel bookings website Orbitz Worldwide and its booking distribution company, in the latest development in an increasingly acrimonies row between airlines and travel booking sites. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images )
American Airlines parent company AMR Corp. has sued travel bookings website Orbitz Worldwide and its booking distribution company, in the latest development in an increasingly acrimonies row between airlines and travel booking sites.

In the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of Texas, American alleges that Orbitz and Travelport—an online bookings firm, which owns a stake in Orbitz—utilize “monopoly” business tactics.

Orbitz, a major online travel booking site, exclusively utilizes Travelport, based in Delaware, which collects flight and seating availability data and distributes it to online booking websites. Travelport, which distributes such data to travel agents, collects a fee from airlines for every travel booked online using its information.

But American and other airlines have tried to get online travel sites such as Orbitz and Travelocity to link up directly with airlines—Orbitz refused, and American recently pulled its listings from the Orbitz website. Travelport has a minority stake in Orbitz.

Travelport “has engaged in anti-competitive conduct to protect its market positions from new competition by alternative technologies that are both less expensive and capable,” according to the lawsuit filed by American, which is based in Dallas, Texas.

In response, Orbitz called American’s suit “baseless,” and is a tactic to “force Orbitz to adopt an airline ticket distribution model that limits consumer choice and inhibits competition,” according to a statement issued by the company on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, disputes between American and Hotwire.com and Expedia.com escalated to the point where American pulled its bookings information from those sites. The parties have since reached an agreement and customers can now book American flights via those websites.

American said last December that it pulled its listings from Orbitz, and the two sides had not been able to iron out their differences since.