The antitrust division of the US Department of Justice is investigating whether global distribution systems (GDSs) have broken US antitrust laws.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) confirmed the inquiry after American Airlines released a brief statement on Friday saying it had received a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) for information from the antitrust division.
The DoJ said the division was investigating “the possibility of antitrust practices” among GDSs – the competing systems which make air fares available to travel retailers on the high street, through call centres and online.
American Airlines said: “American welcomes this investigation by the Department of Justice and intends to cooperate fully.”
Travelport, owner of the Worldspan and Galileo GDSs, Sabre and Amadeus confirmed they had also received demands for information from the antitrust division. Separately, American has filed a lawsuit against Travelport in Texas, alleging anti-competitive behaviour, while US Airways has filed a similar suit against Sabre.
The court cases and antitrust inquiry come after months of increasingly bitter exchanges, primarily between American and Travelport, as the US carrier leads the way in seeking to break the existing distribution model by driving bookings via its own online Direct Connect service rather than the GDSs.
American’s partner British Airways has said it is watching developments “with interest”. BA UK head of sales Richard Tams said last week: “We’re open to new ideas on a new model.”
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