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Airfare shopping sites, your days of cheap Google data are numbered

Google will soon shut down its budget QPX Express airfare data service.

Bargain airfare websites and startups take note: Google is about to cut you off from its low-cost airline ticket data. The tech giant announced Monday that it will phase out its QPX Express API, which currently provides key info regarding ticket prices, scheduling and seating availability to partners.

According to a post on Google's developer page, the lights go out for QPX Express on April 11, 2018. After that date travel sites, booking agencies and ticketing apps must find an "alternate solution" to fulfill their information needs.

Right now that alternative seems to be QPX Enterprise, a paid solution Google offers now and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. By contrast QPX Express data is free for the most part. Below 50 queries for flight info per day are free. Beyond that quota, subscribers must pay a nominal fee of $0.02 per individual request.

The move highlights the fact that search and big data remain crucial to Google's business model. In this case, it provides its own airfare-tracking service, Google Flights. That's despite the fact that the company has doubled down on its plans to make hardware, with the recent high-profile release of the Pixel 2 and 2 XL phones.

Google declined a request for further comment.

First published Nov. 2, 10:02 p.m., PT.

Update, Nov. 7 at 5:40 p.m.: Adds QPX Express pricing and further information.