Ex­pe­dia hides Amer­i­can air­fares af­ter Or­b­itz dis­pute

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

NEW YORK: Ex­pe­dia Inc.'s travel web­site is hid­ing air­fares for Amer­i­can Air­lines af­ter the third-largest U.S. car­rier pulled data from Or­b­itz World­wide Inc. as part of a le­gal dis­pute.

Prices for Amer­i­can flights no longer ap­pear at the top of the site when pas­sen­gers search for tick­ets, while those for com­peti­tors such as United Con­ti­nen­tal Hold­ings Inc. are still shown side by side so trav­el­ers can com­pare.

"This has been done in light of both Amer­i­can Air­lines' re­cent de­ci­sion to pre­vent Or­b­itz from sell­ing its in­ven­tory, and a pos­si­ble dis­rup­tion in Ex­pe­dia's abil­ity to sell Amer­i­can Air­lines tick­ets when our con­tract with Amer­i­can Air­lines ex­pires," Ex­pe­dia said to­day in an emailed state­ment. The com­pany de­clined to say when its ac­cord with Amer­i­can ends.

The move by Belle­vue, Washington-based Ex­pe­dia widened the con­flict be­tween on­line travel agen­cies and air­lines such as Amer­i­can that seek to drive more con­sumers to their own web­sites. AMR Corp.'s Amer­i­can won a court rul­ing against Or­b­itz on Dec. 21 and re­moved its flight data within hours.

"We're dis­ap­pointed that Ex­pe­dia is mak­ing Amer­i­can Air­lines flights and fares more dif­fi­cult to find," Ryan Miko­lasik, a spokesman for Amer­i­can, said in an e-mailed state­ment. "This dis­crim­i­nato- ry ac­tion is un­war­ranted, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that Amer­i­can has taken no ac­tion against and con­tin­ues to op­er­ate in good faith with Ex­pe­dia."

A search to­day of the Ex­pe­dia.com site for a ticket from Amer­i­can's home­town hub at Dal­las-Fort Worth air­port to its Chicago hub in the first week of Jan­uary showed a non­stop United flight for $282 and one by US Air­ways Group Inc. for $511. A mes­sage read "see be­low" for Amer­i­can in­for­ma­tion.

Con­sumers must click through out­bound and re­turn flight times to see the price of the Amer­i­can ticket.

Amer­i­can has de­vel­oped a sys­tem called Di­rect Con­nect that pro­vides fare pric­ing and op­tions di­rectly to larger on­line travel agen­cies. The Fort Worth, Texas-based air­line also is try­ing to han­dle more book­ings through its AA.com web­site.

Amer­i­can dropped Or­b­itz af­ter an Illi­nois state court in Chicago lifted a tem­po­rary re­strain­ing or­der granted last month that pre­vented the air­line from do­ing so. Or­b­itz is partly owned by Trav­el­port LP, which dis­trib­utes air­line fare data. Delta Air Lines Inc., the sec­ond-largest U.S. car­rier, said Dec. 21 it was ter­mi­nat­ing three on­line travel sites, CheapOAir.com, OneTravel.com and BookIt.com as au­tho­rized travel agents. -Bloomberg

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