JetBlue is sued for withdrawing fares from booking web page

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, Jan 6 (Reuters)JetBlue Airways Corp JBLU.O has been sued for allegedly blocking on the internet travel agencies from displaying its fares alongside other carriers’ fares, in an unlawful bid to steer vacationers to its web-site and cost far more.

Fareportal Holdings Inc, which operates the CheapOair and OneTravel internet sites, is trying to get unspecified damages in its antitrust lawsuit submitted on Tuesday night in the federal court in Brooklyn.

It said JetBlue’s refusal to allow it show the carrier’s fares was intended to thwart comparison searching and empower JetBlue to enhance fares together its strongest routes, including to and from New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Florida and Puerto Rico.

Fareportal mentioned JetBlue’s additional than $1.8 billion of taxpayer support and U.S. Treasury financial loans to weather the COVID-19 pandemic has cushioned the Prolonged Island City, New York-dependent carrier’s capability in the in the vicinity of term to eliminate tourists who book in other places.

“JetBlue is applying COVID-relief handouts from American taxpayers to just take American consumers for a ride,” and “make it challenging if not not possible for tourists to figure out the airline that gives the very best mix of rate and company,” the complaint claimed.

The provider did not straight away reply on Wednesday to a ask for for comment.

Southwest Airways Inc LUV.N is by yourself amongst major U.S. carriers in typically shunning 3rd-occasion booking web-sites.

Fareportal mentioned JetBlue ended their nearly 20-12 months connection just after unexpectedly abandoning talks on a multi-12 months extension.

It reported JetBlue nonetheless lets Expedia EXPE.O and Priceline, a unit of Scheduling Holdings Inc BKNG.O, present its fares but intends “in the close to upcoming” to end.

“We have healthful relationships with hundreds of other carriers,” Fareportal’s chief lawful officer Fred Stein explained in an interview. “A enterprise connection is all we are looking for.”

More than 520,000 JetBlue tickets really worth $170 million were sold via Fareportal in 2019, the criticism said.

JetBlue stopped performing with 12 scaled-down reserving web pages in Oct. 2017.

The carrier on Nov. 30 projected a 70% decrease in fourth-quarter income.

The circumstance is Fareportal Holdings Inc et al v JetBlue Airways Corp, U.S. District Court, Jap District of New York, No. 21-00061.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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