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Orbitz founder seeks to rattle Sabre

Web competition for air tickets

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The man behind Orbitz, Alex Zoghlin, says he's signed seven new airlines for his latest attempt to buck the airline ticketing business. His new company, G2 Switchworks has yet to launch the TrueConnect website, but has already indicated that it's taking Sabre, Worldspan and his former company Orbitz head on.

Both Sabre and Orbitz are backed by the major airlines, although Zoghlin says that several of the Orbitz backers will also be participating in TrueConnect, naming MoUs from United, Delta, Continental, Northwest, US Airways and Alaska.

Zoghlin left Orbitz two years ago, and he lured several of the lead engineers to his new venture. Orbitz was launched with the intention of to breaking Sabre's dominant position on air ticket reservations, but as the major airlines took interests in the company, it found itself being accused of monopolistic practices itself. For once Microsoft, with its Expedia service, was left crying foul. Rivals said that the airlines were dumping juicy offers on Orbitz hoping to cut out other web rivals and travel agents.

Sabre was developed in the early 1960s by American Airlines, and the Apollo and Galileo systems by United Airlines. An antitrust investigation by the Department of Justice in 1994 brought against Sabre and Apollo by smaller airlines unearthed anticompetitive practices but decided against declaring them a monopoly. Northwest Airlines is suing Sabre after balking at its usage fees, and is selling tickets direct via its website. ®

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