(Adds statement from American Airlines, Sabre stock price)
By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK Dec 20 American Airlines Group Inc
on Tuesday won about $15.3 million in an antitrust
lawsuit that accused airline booking service Sabre Corp
of harming competition and charging grossly inflated booking
The Manhattan federal jury awarded nearly $5.1 million, a
fraction of the up to $73 million American Airlines was seeking
at trial. But the sum automatically will be tripled under
federal antitrust law.
American Airlines was suing under the name of US Airways,
the carrier it merged with in 2013. US Airways had filed the
lawsuit in 2011.
American Airlines welcomed the verdict, saying it hoped the
jury's finding that Sabre had violated federal antritrust law in
a 2011 contract with US Airways could result in changes in how
the airline's services are sold.
The jury rejected a separate claim that Sabre conspired with
its competitors to not compete with each other.
Sabre said in a statement that it continued to believe it
had operated "fairly and lawfully." The company said it would
seek to have the verdict set aside and, if unsuccessful, pursue
Following the verdict, Sabre shares closed at $25.15, down
35 cents, or 1.4 percent, on Nasdaq.
The case concerned fees that Sabre and other travel
reservation systems collect from airlines to display flights for
At trial, Chuck Diamond, a lawyer for American Airlines,
contended that Sabre used its power in the industry to "bully"
airlines into paying unfair fees and signing unfair contracts
that suppress competition and maintain its position.
The lawsuit claimed that provisions of a 2011 contract
between US Airways and Sabre, including those governing what
fares the airline makes available to a computerized network by
Sabre used by travel agents, harmed competition.
The airline also contended that Sabre conspired with its
competitors to not compete with each other for airline content
like flight and fare information at the expense of consumers and
Sabre denied conspiring with competitors, and said its
contract with US Airways benefited competition. Chris Lind, a
lawyer for Sabre, told jurors US Airways was far from powerless
as it could leave the network, causing agents to stop using it.
The case is US Airways Inc v. Sabre Holdings Corp et al,
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; editing by Leslie Adler
and Richard Chang)