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US Airways Yanks Bookings From Expedia

US Airways , the country's seventh-largest airline, has yanked its tickets and reservations from Barry Diller's Expedia.com travel site in a public quarrel over increased booking fees.

The Arlington, Va.-based airline announced the move in a strongly-worded statement Monday, accusing Expedia of jacking up booking fees suddenly over the Thanksgiving holiday by as much at $4 per ticket.

Expedia, which is owned by New York-based InterActiveCorp, confirmed the booking fee was hiked from $5 to $8.99 for tickets sold on US Airways flights, explaining the move was related to a disagreement over terms of a new contract between the two sides.

The dispute underscores the inherent problems in the online travel sector where airlines work with ticketing sites like Expedia.com and Orbitz to hawk tickets to a wider audience. Most airlines have their own e-commerce offerings but, because the clearinghouses are popular with travelers, they are forced to broker deals to sell tickets at third-party sites.

US Airways flights are still being sold at Orbitz, an industry-run rival of Expedia. The company said tickets already purchased through Expedia.com would be unaffected by the latest move.

The airline accused Expedia.com of unfairly leaving the booking fee for competing airlines at $5, effectively making its fares appear higher and dropping it lower in search results.

"We cannot allow them to differentiate, and we won't," US Airways VP of Marketing and Planning Ben Baldanza said.

A spokesperson for Expedia confirmed that US Airways was the only airline affected by the higher booking fee, but said the issue of variable fees for partners was "not an anomaly."

"All travel sites have use variable fees, depending on negotiations," the spokesperson said, noting that the fee increase for US Airways was put in place on Nov. 21, a full week before the heavily-traveled Thanksgiving holiday.

"US Airways is a valued partner and we're working to resolve this matter," the spokesman told internetnews.com, adding that customers can still make bookings on "hundreds of flight options on the routes that US Airways serves."

The spokesman declined to discuss specifics of the contract squabble.