Amadeus was obliged to restore distribution services to Air Astana after a Madrid court granted the Kazakh carrier injunctive relief on Feb. 3.
Amadeus canceled Air Astana’s agreement on Jan. 21 after 15 days’ notice, alleging a breach of the terms of the agreement.
Air Astana unveiled a “Competitive Booking Source Program” in July, slated for implementation on Jan. 1, and began renegotiating its GDS contracts with Abacus, Travelport, Sirena and Amadeus.
The carrier said GDSs that offer Air Astana “a good product, fair contractual terms and competitive prices” would be designated Competitive Booking Sources, and their subscribers would receive full commissions for the sale of Air Astana’s domestic fares.
Amadeus said it believes the program “discriminates Amadeus subscribers and hence constitutes an illicit action, expressly prohibited in the distribution contract between Amadeus and Air Astana, as Amadeus has made clear since July 2010.”
“Air Astana has ignored repeated warnings from Amadeus that it would not tolerate this contractual infringement,” Amadeus said in a statement. When the program went into effect, “Amadeus invited Air Astana to correct in 15 days. Air Astana chose to maintain the CBSP in operation and hence to maintain the penalty on Amadeus customers. Those actions forced Amadeus to interrupt its distribution services to Air Astana.”
Amadeus said it intends to seek damages from Air Astana, “whose actions have created unjustified commercial damage to Amadeus and its customers.”
It said it will temporarily restore the distribution services for Air Astana. “However, the decision taken by the Spanish court is preliminary and Amadeus’ position has not yet been considered,” it said.
Air Astana, meanwhile, said it considers Amadeus’ actions “coercive.”
Since Jan.1, “Amadeus has been charging Air Astana at a rate several times higher than that charged by competitors for all bookings made in Kazakhstan,” it said.
In addition, it said, last year Amadeus’ share of travel agency bookings in Kazakhstan “was in excess of 90%.” By canceling the agreement with 15 days’ notice, “Amadeus has sought to take advantage of the lack of immediate alternative for distribution in many markets to pressure Air Astana to accept a new agreement on Amadeus’ terms.”
Air Astana is a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna (51%) and BAE Systems plc (49%). It operates 22 aircraft on 24 domestic and 27 international routes.