Southlake ticket distributor Sabre cuts off Russian airline Aeroflot over Ukraine invasion

Texas airline software and sales platform company Sabre Corp. says it is severing its distribution deal with Russian airline Aeroflot as the world steps up financial pressure over the invasion of Ukraine.

Southlake-based Sabre Corp., the world’s biggest platform for selling airline tickets through travel agents and third-party websites, said it “is taking immediate steps to remove Aeroflot flight content from its global distribution system.”

It could be a major blow to Aeroflot’s ability to sell tickets to international passengers and will remove the airline from the channels that other carriers use to reach millions of customers.

“We are taking a stand against this military conflict,” Sabre CEO Sean Menke said in a statement. “We are complying, and will continue to comply, with sanctions imposed against Russia.”

Aeroflot is Russia’s largest airline and was once a state-owned company under the U.S.S.R. Now it is a private company and carried about 45.8 million passengers in 2021, according to Aeroflot.

Aeroflot doesn’t fly to Dallas-Fort Worth. But before the invasion, it flew to Miami, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C.

Western nations have moved swiftly in the last few days to isolate Russia and Russian companies from access to the world both financially and in terms of travel. Several airlines, including Fort Worth-based American Airlines, have cut agreements with Russia’s S7 airlines.

Delta Air Lines also suspended its partnership with Aeroflot, part of its SkyTeam international alliance.

The U.S., the European Union and Canada have also been among a group of governments that have banned Russian commercial and private jets from their airspace, along with several countries in Europe.

Other companies have pulled business out of Ukraine, and the U.S. and other countries have moved to cut off Russia’s access to global financial markets. Sports leagues have banned Russian teams as well.

Sabre, which started as a spin-off of American Airlines’ ticket distribution system, has about 1,500 employees in Poland, which has received hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion that started last week.

“Sabre has been monitoring the evolving situation in Ukraine with increasing concern,” Menke said. “From the beginning, our primary focus has been the safety of our team members in the impacted region, as well as doing our part to support the much-needed relief effort.”

Sabre said it is donating $1 million to the Polish Red Cross to assist with the growing humanitarian crisis.

Sabre still has other relationships with Aeroflot through its Sabresonic platform used for managing passengers. The company said it “will continue to monitor the ongoing situation and will evaluate whether additional actions would be appropriate,” although it has to consider legal ramifications and other potential countermeasures, the company said.

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