Google-ITA: Fairsearch group seeks support from US Congress

Leading online travel firms have written to the US Congress in protest against Google’s proposed acquisition of software company ITA.

FairSearch.org, an alliance of travel businesses that includes Expedia, Kayak and Sabre Holdings, is calling on the US Justice Department to challenge the deal. 

The letter, which has been sent to all 535 members of Congress, says: “Given Google’s market power in general search and its pattern in other markets, including books, video, display advertising, mobile advertising, shopping, and maps, this deal should be subject to intense scrutiny.

“We believe that Google should not be allowed to enter a market in a way that simultaneously undermines the ability of other competitors to provide quality products to consumers and continue to innovate themselves.”

FairSearch.org claims the Google-ITA deal would put competition between companies such as Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, and Travelocity under threat. ITA runs back-end flight search for 65% of US sales on airline websites and the majority of flight search sites. 

“Instead of simply licensing the ITA technology and innovating on top of it, as other travel companies have done since 2001, Google seeks to combine its power in Internet search generally with control over the key flight search technology upon which most online travel sites rely,” FairSerach.org claims.

“This combination threatens to enable Google to dominate online flight and travel search, which can reduce the quality of travel information available to consumers, increase advertising costs, and result in higher air fares.”

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