Sabre lawsuit against IATA dismissed by Canadian court


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) won a major court victory in its dispute with Sabre over the IATA PaxIS product. On Jan. 11, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Canada) dismissed Sabre’s claims that the IATA PaxIS products violated confidentiality obligations.

“IATA has won an important legal battle to preserve competition for airline data transaction products. The Canadian court decision vindicates the rights of airlines to determine how their trade association may use their data,” said IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani.

PaxIS is an airline industry business intelligence product based in part on ticketing data that IATA collects and processes through its billing and settlement plans (BSP). This data is transmitted to IATA by the global distribution system (GDS) providers, such as Sabre, that assist travel agencies in ticket issuance for their airline principals.

In 2006, Sabre filed a lawsuit against IATA alleging breach of confidence by IATA with respect to its use of the ticketing data, transmitted by Sabre, in IATA’s PaxIS products. IATA vigorously defended this claim with the assistance of the Canadian law firm Fasken, Martineau, DuMoulin.

In its 32-page decision, the Ontario Superior Court found that IATA acted lawfully in developing the PaxIS products based on data from its BSPs. The court also rejected each of Sabre’s arguments that IATA owed Sabre a duty to use BSP data solely for settlement purposes and not for “commercial” products such as PaxIS. Lastly, the judge determined that Sabre could not claim confidential rights to the airline ticketing data.

In a statement released by Sabre Holdings, company officials said, “We are naturally disappointed with the decision in this case. We respectfully disagree with the Court’s conclusion and are currently assessing our legal options.”