In what has become, it seems, a daily dose of corporate idiocy, the news today that American Airlines is suing Sabre comes as no surprise. American’s ongoing struggle to get ticket prices out of the gutter and erase red ink has gotten even nastier, as if that were possible.
American is suing Sabre to basically stop the company from downplaying ads for American’s flights in favor of other carriers. American says Sabre promoting other carriers in such a fashion will cost the airline countless sales. The lawsuit, filed in the state court in Forth Worth, Texas yesterday, is another escalation of American’s war to force fliers to seek info and bookings on service provider sites and cut out middle players like Expedia, Travelocity, and others.
American wants to pretty much force everyone concerned to get do business directly with American online. Sabre, Expedia, Obrbitz, Kayak, all the rest of the OTA’s and even GDS giants like Amadeus would likely be cut out of airline travel period, if American had its way. Airlines already pay pitifully low incentives for affiliates who sell their wares, and with jet fuel prices only getting higher, American and other providers are in a pickle obviously. The graph below pretty much suggests the way AA is headed.
Sabre, one of the world’s largest travel data providers, retaliated last week by making it harder for travel agents to find information about American flights and raising fees that it charges American. Thus far the battle lines have been clearly drawn. So far only Delta airlines has weighed in among the heavyweights supporting the idea of “direct connect.” The stakes have to be extraordinarily high for this amount of apparent animosity to show through. It is not generally good PR or even corporate form to let things turn this hostile.