Network: Bytes - Microsoft

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The Independent Culture
MICROSOFT HAS asked the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to investigate possible antitrust practices by US airline companies. MSN Expedia, Microsoft's web-based travel service, and other online travel agents are jointly filing a complaint through three trade associations, the Interactive Travel Services Associations, the American Society of Travel Agents, and the Coalition for Travel Industry Parity.

Although only 2 per cent of bookings are currently performed online, a Jupiter Communications study suggests that figure will be 60 per cent by 2002. Travel agents are concerned that airline companies are determined to drive customers direct to their own websites, rather than to travel agents' sites.

At present airlines offer travel agents lower commissions and fees for tickets sold via the web, and are thought to be planning to offer extra services that travel agents traditionally supply such as car hire and accommodation reservations.