In DOT complaint, ASTA requests punitive measures against American Airlines

In filing a formal complaint about American Airlines’ distribution strategy with the Department of Transportation (DOT), ASTA has forced the carrier’s hand to respond to its complaints. 

Among ASTA’s requests, the travel agency group is asking the DOT to require that American divest slots at several airports for competitive purposes.

In July, ASTA drafted a complaint against the carrier following its decision to remove some content from traditional GDS (Edifact) booking channels in April and making the lowest fares available only via New Distribution Capability (NDC) technology.

On Sept. 22, ASTA filed a complaint with the DOT, arguing AA’s decision has harmed consumers and travel agencies. The result, ASTA said, has been higher airfares and travel agency frustration about limited servicing capabilities on NDC tickets.

Peter Lobasso, ASTA’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in an email that the formal complaint is largely the same as the draft.

“However, because it’s now been docketed, American is required to submit a written response,” Lobasso said. That response is due Nov. 21.

ASTA outlines several requests in the formal complaint.

ASTA asks that the DOT issue an order temporarily requiring American to restore all fares in the Edifact distribution channel. It also asks the DOT to require American to divest slots at Washington Reagan National, JFK and LaGuardia airports “in an amount sufficient to restore meaningful levels of competition to the Washington and New York markets.”

When asked Monday about the request to divest slots, American chose not to comment.

ASTA also wants the DOT to prevent American from banning the use of fare-shopping software that finds lower fares “at a minimum within the first 24 hours of a ticket booking.”

Finally, ASTA asked the DOT to consider revoking approval of antitrust-immune airline alliances.

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