Travel industry running scared from Google

Google's talks to buy ITA Software, an airline IT and services provider, has travel executives worried that the search engine giant could wield too much power in their industry.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based ITA is a major source of information about airfares to the industry, used by a slew of airlines, travel agents and other sites, including AMR Corp's American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Hotwire, Kayak, Orbitz and Microsoft Corp's Bing.



The concerns are so real that Kayak offered to buy ITA to keep the company out of Google's hands, a travel industry source close to the situation said.



Kayak was being backed by Expedia Inc, which would have injected under $200 million into Kayak to make a deal happen, the source said.



But the talks went nowhere as Google was in exclusive talks with ITA, the source said, requesting anonymity because the person did not want to be named talking publicly about the search giant.



"We are going to watch the potential to abuse dominance," said Robert Birge, Kayak's chief marketing officer, declining to confirm or comment on his company's bid for ITA. "They have dominance on the general search side. When you couple that with ITA's airline relationships there is reason to be concerned."



"We have definitely heard from other folks, including on the agency side and on the supplier side. They are concerned," Birge said.



Google declined to comment. ITA was not immediately available for comment.

The concerns center around how Google might combine its dominance in the general search business with ITA's strengths in the travel sector. ITA, for instance, provides data from its airline searches to others, including Kayak, Birge said.



"What if they decided to stop providing that data? What if they only provided that data to the parent company? What if they provided better data for those airlines to their parent company?".



Some industry executives would like to see Google give assurances that it would not link using ITA to its general search results, the industry source said.



"They would have to commit that the two sides of the business don't talk to each other essentially," the source said.



They would also like Google to commit to not "dumping" the services of ITA at lower prices than others could afford, the source said.



Industry executives are expected to voice their concerns if a deal is announced and the Federal Trade Commission reaches out to them for comments, the source said.



Not everyone in the industry is worried, though. Last month Priceline Chief Executive Jeffrey Boyd was cited by Tnooz, a travel industry-focused publication, as saying an acquisition by Google would help if it resulted in their getting better leads to customers.



Indeed, the travel industry source said Google had been careful about antitrust concerns and if they "keep behaving the way they behave today, I don't think it will be a big issue."



But the potential for abuse remains a concern.



"It is in a position, because of its search dominance, to control all of these travel sites that have been using ITA," said Gary Reback, a lawyer at Carr & Ferrell, referring to Google. "It can boost its own travel over anybody else, by using the power of its now vertically-integrated search engine and on top of that gets access to data it didn't have before."

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Analyst / Helpdesk Support Analyst

    £16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is the UK's leading ...

    SThree: TRAINEE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT - IT - LONDON

    £20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'