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Originally published Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 11:51 AM

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American talks to Orbitz, Expedia about resuming listings

American Airlines is talking to Orbitz and Expedia about resuming the listing of its flights with the online travel agencies. American pulled its flight...

American Airlines is talking to Orbitz and Expedia about resuming the listing of its flights with the online travel agencies.

American pulled its flight listings from Orbitz when the two companies couldn't agree on a new contract. Expedia dropped American over the weekend, but said it continues to list the airline's flights on Egencia, its corporate website, and "remains open to doing business with American Airlines on terms that are satisfactory to Expedia and do not compromise our ability to provide consumers with the products and services they need."

American wants to reduce the cost of distributing tickets by requiring online travel agencies to get flight and fare information directly from the airline's computer system rather than going through intermediaries called global distribution systems, or GDS.

The GDS charge the airlines a commission of several dollars per ticket sold with the information they provide to travel agencies. American wants to avoid paying those costs.

"We still want to keep relationships with all our current travel agencies," said Cory Garner, American's director of distribution strategy, "and we are open to distributing our fares (and) schedules in an efficient manner as broadly as possible, including through Orbitz and Expedia."

Expedia's removal of American flights marked an escalation in a months-long dispute between the airline and various travel sites. The move came after Expedia made American flights more difficult to find on its website, an apparent response to the airline's decision to drop Orbitz. Expedia warned that it "cannot support efforts that we believe are fundamentally bad for travelers."

Customers can still compare fares online at websites such Bing.com, Kayak.com or Priceline.com, which don't sell tickets, but provide links to the airlines and other websites that do.

Experts have cautioned that while American might save money in commission fees, its sales will drop if its flights don't appear on travel sites such as Orbitz and Expedia. About a third of Americans book their tickets on independent travel sites. Expedia is the largest of those sites, handling flight information for more than 300 airlines.

Analysts have added that only smaller airlines such as Southwest Airlines Co. can get away with selling tickets exclusively on their own websites, as these airlines already have a reputation for offering cheap fares.

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