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The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) submitted a draft complaint to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding American Airlines’ (AA) decision to implement the New Distribution Capability (NDC) technology, which resulted in, among other things, the removal of 40 percent of the airline’s fare inventory from the established EDIFACT distribution channel. The complaint alleges AA’s implementation—which began last April—is an unfair trade practice that warrants immediate action by the DOT.

During Virtuoso Travel Week, currently taking place in Las Vegas, Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso, noted that he is aware of the ASTA complaint and does support it.

ASTA: American Airlines Causing High Prices, Chaos

ASTA claims that AA has inflicted both financial and non-financial harm to travelers, travel agencies, and travel management companies (TMCs) due to their actions. These actions have also resulted in considerably higher airfare for passengers while preventing TMCs and their clients from fulfilling their duty of care to business travelers.

From the complaint: “As we predicted would occur in our letter of March 28, 2023, to Secretary Buttigieg, because the travel industry as a whole was (and remains) largely unprepared to fully adopt NDC, American’s decision has already caused widespread disruption to the air ticket distribution ecosystem and serious consumer harm in the form of higher airfares and further reduced competition, in terms of both airline travel itself as well as air ticket distribution.”

The organization is urging DOT to use its statutory authority to enjoin the airline from continuing this practice, to restore access to all fares in all channels and undertake a comprehensive review of the current state of competition in the domestic airline industry. This complaint was filed after numerous private meetings between ASTA and AA representatives and the organization and DOT representatives. ASTA is joined in the filing by the Travel Management Coalition, the Business Travel Association (U.K.) and FOLATUR.

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