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Lufthansa sues Sabre over ticket distribution contract


Lufthansa has asked a Tarrant County court to clarify its ticket distribution contract with Sabre as part of a lawsuit the German carrier filed late last week.

The airline said Sabre had notified Lufthansa that the airline had breached the contract with the fee it was charging for Lufthansa tickets booked through Sabre and other “global distribution systems” similar to Sabre. Sabre, which is based in Southlake, argued that Lufthansa was not charging the fee for the airline’s direct connection and website and those sites should also be charged the fee since they function like a global distribution system.

“Lufthansa Group airlines [LHG] are working well with the GDS providers and, in particular, are in active conversation with Sabre, seeking modern technical solutions that enable a state-of-the-art and innovative display of the LHG products to our customers. Following its customers’ demands, LHG is convinced that its diverse clientele wants to access LHG’s offerings though multiple technical and commercial channels, including its important Direct Connect and .com channels,” the airline said in a statement.

“As a matter of principle, Lufthansa is seeking clarity on contractual terms with Sabre that seem to be viewed differently by the parties,” the airline said adding that the lawsuit should have no daily impact on the business between the two parties and Lufthansa tickets will still be available through the Sabre system.

Sabre has fought with its airline customers for years over global distribution system ticket fees and new Internet technology that allows airlines to sell tickets directly to passengers. For decades, Sabre and other global distribution systems were the only way for tickets to be purchased, usually through a travel agent or from an airline’s ticket offices. But with the proliferation of online travel sites and airlines’ ability to sell tickets directly through their own websites, companies like Sabre have developed other technology services it can provide airlines outside of the traditional ticket distribution system.

“Just as Lufthansa would fully expect Sabre to honor all aspects of our contractual relationship, Sabre has expressed its concern to Lufthansa, on multiple occasions, about Lufthansa’s failure to comply with its contract,” Sabre said in a statement. “Nonetheless, over the past several months, Sabre has worked diligently to understand and be responsive to Lufthansa’s commercial objectives and we have had several constructive discussions about how our technology solutions can support Lufthansa’s business. Sabre will defend itself vigorously against this lawsuit.”