Judge rejects government’s bid to block airline-data merger

Sabre Corp.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has rejected a government attempt to block Texas-based Sabre Corp. from buying Farelogix Inc. in a $360 million deal combining two companies that provide information about airline tickets to travel agents.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Stark in Delaware said in a ruling late Tuesday that the Justice Department had failed during an eight-day trial to prove that the deal would substantially reduce competition.

The Justice Department sued to block the deal last August. It accused Sabre of buying Farelogix to eliminate a competitor who had more modern technology, and said a merger would lead to higher prices and less innovation.

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said the government will review the ruling and consider how to respond.

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Sabre, based in Southlake, Texas, said it will wait for a final decision from the U.K.’s antitrust regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, which has previously signaled that blocking the merger would be the only effective answer to its concern about competition.

The trial ended in early February, and the judge noted that the travel industry has since been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Stark said he did not – and could not – consider the possible impact of the virus outbreak in reaching his decision.