American Airlines said it is "very close" to reaching a temporary agreement with Travelport under which Travelport would agree not to boot the carrier from its GDS until Jan. 31.

American made the disclosure in a document filed with the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, where it is suing Travelport, Sabre and Orbitz.

The move came as the expiration dates of American's GDS contracts were closing in.

Its contract with Travelport for the Worldspan GDS expires on July 31, and its contracts for Travelport's Galileo system and for Sabre Travel Network expire on Aug. 31.

American also told the court that Travelport has said it will dramatically raise its booking fees on Aug. 1 and bias American's displays "if American takes the only self-help measure available to it to recover these increased costs." American did not identify the "self-help measure."

Sabre Travel Network already imposed "substantially higher" booking fees on American on July 8, according to the carrier's second-quarter earnings filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

American claims that the contract expirations do not give the GDS companies the right to exclude the airline from their systems.

"The pricing and other protections in American's Sabre GDS agreement expire on August 31, 2011," it said in its SEC filing. "Sabre has also asserted that the entire GDS agreement terminates on August 31, 2011. American disagrees and has also filed breach of contract claims in Texas state court."

In its court papers, American noted that even if it reaches a temporary agreement with Travelport, "the threat remains that Travelport still could exclude American" when the pact expires.

American's dispute with the GDS companies, which has raged since November, centers on the carrier's desire to connect directly with travel management companies via XML.

It is unclear what, if any, measures the parties are taking to cope with a scenario in which a large U.S. network carrier that leans heavily toward the corporate travel market is no longer available for booking in the two largest GDS companies operating in the U.S.

Travelport told its subscribers that it has "reason to expect" that American will continue to provide its content to Worldspan and Galileo even after the agreements expire.

In a letter signed by Scott Hyden, Travelport's vice president of U.S. sales, the company said that if it does not reach a new full-content agreement with American prior to the expirations, subscribers in the U.S. and the Caribbean will cease participating in the Worldspan Super Access Product and the Galileo Content Continuity Program, which were developed in the last round of GDS negotiations.

"As a result, there will be no opt-in fee for AA booked content because AA will no longer guarantee full content," Hyden wrote.

He added that "we have heard that AA has suggested to some agencies that they should go to Travelport to sign a 'reverse GDS' agreement.'"

He said American "has not actively engaged with us on a reverse GDS commercial model. Therefore we are not in a position to sign any agreements like this with you."

Hyden told TTU that "our understanding of a reverse GDS agreement is where the supplier would pay something to the agency directly, and the agency would in turn pay a fee to the GDS, and the GDS would have some new relationship with the supplier."

Despite the legal wrangling, all the parties say they are still talking.

An American spokesman said "AA remains committed to reaching an agreement that will ensure TMCs and corporate customers continue to have access to AA's content and recognizes new market realities and technological capabilities."

He said American has been visiting with TMCs and corporate customers "to explain their options to access AA content should our discussions with the GDSs fail to produce such an agreement and GDSs remove or bias our content."