Delhi high court on Wednesday refused to set aside Air India’s decision to award the passenger services system (PSS) contract to Amadeus and dismissed rival firm Sabre’s plea in this regard.
A division bench of the Delhi high court said, “We are not inclined to grant any relief to the petitioner (Sabre). The petition is accordingly rejected.”
A PSS covers wide-ranging functions, including flight scheduling, ticket reservation, e-commerce, loyalty programme and departure control.
Air India had invited bids for a new seven-year PSS contract in March as its existing agreement with SITA is due to end next year.
Sabre moved the high court in June after Air India selected Amadeus for the contract and accused the national carrier of favouritism in the selection process. It said the selection criteria was tailored to suit Amadeus. Sabre further claimed that acquiring its product would save Air India of Rs 900 crore.
While Sabre’s financial bid was Rs 1,039 crore, Amadeus quoted Rs 1,957 crore for the contract. Sabre’s overall score, under the quality-cum-cost-based selection method, was lower than Amadeus. Hence, it was not selected for the contract. The high court observed that in order to interfere in commercial transactions, the court must be satisfied that there exists some element of public interest.
“Keeping in mind that Air India has financial stress and is being disinvested, such a tender is not in public interest and cannot be accepted. A passenger service system is need of the hour for Air India, considering its existing service provider would stop providing services from June, 2022,” the division bench noted.
“Air India is the best judge of its own requirements, that is, choosing a system that gives it an edge over its peers, which ultimately, will translate into increased revenue. As a result, merely because the financial bid of the petitioner is the lowest, it would not mean it is automatically to be accepted,” the bench said.
Air India and Sabre did not respond to an email query.
In a statement, Amadeus said, “We do not comment on ongoing discussions with our partners. Amadeus is committed to securing long-term relationships with all partners in the travel community. We have developed our technology in partnership with the travel industry for over 30 years.”
While law firm MVKini represented Air India, JSA and Khaitan & Co appeared for Sabre and Amadeus, respectively.