Travel companies band together against Google

Several online travel companies, including TripAdvisor, Travelocity, and Expedia, form a partnership to try to block Google's impending acquisition of ITA.

Travelocity, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Sabre Holdings, and several other online travel companies have created the FairSearch.org coalition to try to block Google's acquisition of ITA Software.

In a blog post announcing its launch, FairSearch said that Google "presents a threat to competition and transparency in online travel search, and could lead to higher travel prices and less choice for consumers."

Back in July, Google announced that it intended to acquire ITA for $700 million . The search giant said at the time that ITA, which collects flight, seating, and pricing data from airlines and provides them to online travel search companies, would be used to help people shop for airfare via Google.

Google's representation of online travel.
Google's representation of the online travel industry. Google

On a site detailing its intentions for ITA, Google states that it wants to "create a new, easier way for users to find better flight information online, which should encourage more users to make their flight purchases online."

Google asserts that its ITA acquisition "will benefit passengers, airlines, and online travel agencies."

But the FairSearch coalition members disagree and specifically cite "The Google Problem."

"If the transaction is approved, consumers should expect to face higher prices and less choice when searching for travel online," FairSearch states on its site. "This anticompetitive deal represents a broader pattern in Google's acquisition strategy--a strategy that threatens online competition, innovation, and economic growth."

In addition to establishing a coalition, the companies are rallying together in a lobbying effort to urge Congress members to block Google's bid for ITA, The Wall Street Journal reported.

But those companies aren't the only stakeholders concerned about Google's intentions for ITA.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice broadened its review of Google's ITA acquisition . The Justice Department is concerned that Google would keep travel companies from using ITA's services. The federal government also wants to ensure that Google won't use ITA to push people toward its own travel offering, rather than direct them to search sites.

For its part, Google has said that the "deal will not change existing market shares." It also plans to "honor all existing agreements" ITA Software has with travel search companies.

 

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