Online Travel and Technology Companies Launch FairSearch.org Coalition, Urge Justice Department to Challenge Google-ITA Deal
FairSearch.org Created to Protect Competition, Transparency and Innovation in Travel Search
Leading online travel sites and travel technology companies have formed the FairSearch.org coalition to support competition, transparency and innovation in online search. The coalition is urging the Justice Department to challenge Google’s proposed $700 million acquisition of ITA Software, the flight search technology that powers many of the web’s most popular travel sites, including KAYAK and Hotwire. Acquiring ITA Software would give Google control over the software that powers most of its closest rivals in travel search and could enable Google to manipulate and dominate the online air travel marketplace. The end result could be higher travel prices, fewer travel choices for consumers and businesses, and less innovation in online travel search.
“ITA’s technology has made it the software provider of choice for many online players throughout the travel industry, including a number of Google’s competitors in air travel search,” said Steve Hafner, CEO and co-founder of KAYAK. “We founded KAYAK to give travel consumers access to more choices and lower prices, but this deal could result in just the opposite.”
ITA provides the technology behind 65 percent of all carrier-direct online flight searches in the U.S., and its flight search software powers six of the top ten air carriers in the U.S. Some of ITA’s most well-known U.S. customers include American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Hotwire, KAYAK, Orbitz, Southwest Airlines, TripAdvisor, United Airlines, US Airways, and Virgin Atlantic.
Today, Google is the source of more than 30 percent of all search engine traffic to online travel sites, delivering more visitors than any other search engine, the primary way Internet users navigate to U.S. industries online, according to Experian Hitwise. Google is also the dominant provider of online search, controlling more than 70 percent of U.S. searches, according to Experian Hitwise.
“Combining Google and ITA – the dominant providers of web search and flight search technology, respectively – raises some serious concerns for travelers and the online travel industry as a whole,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia, Inc. “We support this coalition because we believe consumers deserve transparency, and that they – not search engines – should choose winners and losers in online travel.”
Thomas Barnett, who served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division from 2005 to 2008 and who serves as counsel to Expedia, said Google could use ITA Software to stifle competition in online flight search and to extend its dominance in Internet search into search for online travel, which is the largest segment of e-commerce.
“ITA plays a crucial role in online flight search and has been a key driver of competition and innovation in online travel,” said Barnett. “The Justice Department needs to thoroughly investigate the proposed acquisition and to take whatever action is necessary to prevent harm to consumers in online flight search as well as online travel search more generally.”
For more information about the FairSearch.org coalition, news updates about Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA Software, and more information on the deal, please visit .
About FairSearch.org | FairSearch.org is a group of businesses united in support of a healthy Internet future, where greater consumer choice and economic growth are driven by competition, integrity and innovation in online search. Members of FairSearch.org include Expedia Inc., and its brands Expedia.com, Hotwire and TripAdvisor; Farelogix Inc.; KAYAK, and its brand SideStep; and Sabre Holdings, and its brand Travelocity.
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