Travel firms oppose Google takeover of ITA Software

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on October 27, 2010

Several online travel firms have joined to fight against Google’s planned takeover of an airline booking software company.

According to key industry players, Google’s proposed $700 million buy-out of ITA Software Inc could pose a threat to competition in the sector. The group has said that the deal would lead to less innovation and higher prices within the online travel market.

Expedia Inc, Farelogix, Kayak.com and Sabre Holdings, which owns Travelocity, have joined in a coalition against the search engine giants acquisition of the software company. Dubbed FairSearch.org, the coalition has asked the Justice Department to challenge Google’s proposition.

According to Kayak CEO and co-founder, Steve Hafner, ITA’s technology has become the software of choice for many online travel industry players, including many of Google’s competitors for air travel searches.

Opponents of the deal say that Google would limit the access of ITA’s software to companies like Microsoft and others, which help power many of the online travel firms’ websites.

Google is arguing, however, that since it is not in direct competition with ITA Software, the deal is legal. It also stated that there are those in the travel industry that support the move.

Adam Kovacevich, a spokesman for Google, said that the acquisition would allow Google to provide more useful answers for users searching for flights on its search engine. He also added that the bid would increase traffic to online travel agencies websites meaning more potential customers.

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