Travelers wanting to fly American Airlines will no longer be able to book their tickets through Orbitz, the airline announced Tuesday.
US Airways, which has merged with American, will follow suit on Sept. 1, when its flights will also no longer be available for booking through the online travel site.
American, which pays Orbitz for the flights that passengers book on its site, says that the relationship had become too costly and the companies were not able to come to terms on a new agreement.
"We have worked tirelessly with Orbitz to reach a deal with the economics that allow us to keep costs low and compete with low-cost carriers,'' Scott Kirby, president of American Airlines, said in a statement.
He added that even without Orbitz, "There are a multitude of other options available for our customers, including brick-and-mortar agencies, online travel agencies and our own websites.''
Orbitz for Business, the site's portal for corporate clients, will still list American and US Airways flights.
In a statement, Orbitz noted that it will continue to have options for fliers, even if American and US Airways flights are not among them.
"Our sites offer hundreds of airlines, which are eager to capture the revenue American is choosing to forgo and we will continue to show our customers a broad range of flight options to thousands of destinations in the U.S. and worldwide,'' the statement said.
Fliers who have already bought tickets through Orbitz for flights on American or US Airways will still be able to use them, but if they want to change their itinerary, they will now have to contact the airlines directly.
Other than that, analysts and travel watchers say American's move should not have much impact on fliers.
"This is a business dispute with one company and one company only,'' says Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst with Atmosphere Research Group. "For the traveler there's really not that much inconvenience here. You can still shop for various airlines on Orbitz. ... You can book American Airlines partners through Orbitz, like British Airways and Cathay Pacific. And at the same time, if you prefer to use online travel companies, you can buy through other sites, like Expedia and Travelocity.''
But American's decision may have had an adverse effect on Orbitz, whose stock price was down 4.6%, to $8.04 a share, at end of day trading.
It's not the first time that there's been a dustup between Orbitz and what is now the world's biggest carrier.
In December, 2010, American also pulled its fares off the online site. That dispute centered more around American's desire to have Orbitz receive flight information right from the airline, vs. through the global distribution systems that have traditionally funneled such information, at a cost to the carriers.
To show solidarity with Orbitz back in 2010, Expedia briefly pushed American's flights and fares beneath those of other carriers, putting American at a disadvantage with consumers searching the site.
Harteveldt doesn't anticipate a similar volley this go-round, or for other carriers to necessarily follow American's lead.
"These are very carefully deliberated decisions with hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe more, in gross sales at risk if an airline makes the wrong decision in terms of pulling out of one of these online travel companies,'' he said. "If an online travel agency is cost-effective, helps the airline generate significant, good-quality revenue, and has a strategy for how it can help the airline sell optional products, then the airline will likely not drop that online agency."
But Orbitz may suffer in the long run. "I believe this move will have a material impact on Orbitz's business,'' Harteveldt said. "When American pulled out of Orbitz (a few) years ago, Orbitz's business fell about 5%. The loss of both American and US Airways may have an even greater impact on Orbitz this time around.''