Travel technology company Amadeus settled a lawsuit led by seven U.S. flyers purportedly on behalf of the American ticket-buying public by agreeing to pay USD 3 million in fees to plaintiff’s attorneys in return for no longer having to defend itself against the charges, said a filing in New York federal court.
The suit alleged that Amadeus colluded with its peer companies Sabre and Travelport to wrangle advantageous content distribution contracts with airlines. The suit accused the three companies of strong-arming airlines into accepting excessive fees, which were passed along to U.S. consumers via allegedly higher airfares.
The flyers filed their case in July 2015 with the hope of getting the lawsuit certified as a class action, representing all U.S. ticket buyers in recent years. The seven flyers will get USD 500 each out of the USD 3 million settlement by Amadeus, while the plaintiffs’ attorneys get the rest. Why are the plaintiffs themselves getting so little? We don’t know.
Amadeus - as did Travelport in an earlier settlement - agreed, as a token of good faith, to conduct annual antitrust compliance training for their staff, such as a reminder on the rules about exchanging sensitive competitive information with competitors or coordinating conduct with respect to contracting with air carriers, for five years.
Amadeus denies wrongdoing and said in a statement that it chose to pay “for reasons of financial and business expediency.” The Madrid-based company had announced its intention to settle in the summer but only agreed to the financial terms this week.
Another defendant, UK-based Travelport, exited the case this spring. Travelport did not provide a cash payment but agreed to reimburse the plaintiffs’ attorneys about USD 117,000 in litigation expenses.
The decisions to pay by Amadeus and Travelport gives money to the class action attorneys, who will now continue their pursuit of Texas-based Sabre.
The most likely outcome now is that Sabre settles, as well. The putative class action lawsuit will almost certainly never be certified such, based on the judge’s recent decisions related to the Amadeus and Travelport settlements.
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