The way has been cleared for US Airways (a brand that no longer exists, incidentally) to seek about USD 210 million in damages from Sabre over allegedly inflated booking fees.
US federal judge Judge Lorna Schofield restored the airline’s right to pursue the antitrust action, saying the case mattered to consumers wanting to keep down the cost of flying. US Airways is now part of American Airlines.
Like other GDS systems, Sabre collects revenue from airlines to display flights for booking.
US Airways had accused Sabre of inflating its fees, suppressing competition and making it more difficult for travel agents and others to use cheaper alternative ways of booing seats.
US Airways agreed earlier this year waive damages claims above USD 20 if it got a bench trial on its remaining claims. Legal arguments have continued since.
Technically, US Airways as a brand now belongs to history, with all flights now operating as American Airlines following the merger.
American Airlines, ironically, was the creator of Sabre, and the history of the two companies goes back a long way. In 1953, president of American Airlines, C.R. Smith, met Blair Smith, an IBM salesman, on a flight and developed the Sabre (Semi-Automatic Business Research Environment) concept.
Consequently, American Airlines founded Sabre Corporation in 1960, the year John F. Kennedy was elected US President. Sabre Corporation installed the first Sabre reservation system in Briarcliff Manor, New York that year. The system consisted of two IBM 7090 mainframe computers and processed 84,000 calls per day, which was considered revolutionary at the time and is still pretty impressive today.
Written by Peter Needham