US-based technology solutions provider Sabre GLBL has moved the Delhi High Court challenging Air India’s decision to appoint its rival Amadeus IT Group as service provider for its integrated passenger services systems (PSS).
A bench led by Justice C Hari Shankar sought a response from Air India and Amadeus on the petition filed by Sabre, which alleges that fairness and transparency were wholly lacking in the entire process of the tender. The HC in its order said that Sabre was “informed of its tender not having been accepted as far back as on June 8, and has chosen to approach this court only at the fag end of the vacations. In the circumstances, and especially given the score shared by senior counsel Dayan Krishnan (Air India counsel) on screen, I do not deem it appropriate to restrain Air India from issuing Letter of Intent (LoI) or award of the contract to Amadeus,” Justice Shankar said.
The issuance of LoI or award of the contract, would, however, remain subject to, and abide by, further orders to be passed in the case, the Bench said, adding that “no equities would be pleaded by any party on the basis of issuance of LoI or award of the contract to Amadeus.”
During the hearing, the judges also observed that there is no universal law that the lowest bidder will be selected.
Senior counsel Sandeep Sethi, appearing for Sabre, argued that Air India failed to consider that it could have saved around Rs 900 crore from Sabre’s “most attractive, competitive, and compliant bid”.
He said that without disclosing the scores of the technical bids, the carrier opened the financial bids on May 24 and selected Amadeus — which had quoted a price almost 47% higher than Sabre’s quote — as the successful bidder.
However, senior counsel Dayan Krishnan and Rajiv Nayyar, appearing for Air India and Amadeus, respectively, opposed the petition, saying once Sabre participated in the tender, it couldnot have challenged the terms of the tender. Air India also said that Amadeus score in the technical bid was much higher than that of Sabre. Krishnan further told the HC that the Sabre’s tender was not accepted on the ground that its aggregate score was less than that of Amadeus.