A handful of travel technology firms,
including Sabre Holdings, Expedia and Farelogix, on Tuesday announced the
formation of a coalition opposed to Google's pending acquisition of ITA
Google in July announced the $700 million acquisition of the Cambridge, Mass.-based flight information software
company, sparking concerns of a new dominant player in fare search. The U.S. Justice
Department is in the midst of reviewing the transaction.
Fearing that the acquisition could
enable Google "to manipulate and dominate the online air travel
marketplace," FairSearch.org is encouraging DOJ to deny the transaction.
The group even includes a few sites that are powered by ITA technology,
including Kayak and Hotwire.
Noting that ITA's technology sits
behind 65 percent of all carrier-direct flight searches in the United States
and the firm counts six of the top 10 U.S. carriers as clients, FairSearch.org
contends that combining ITA's dominance in fare search with Google's dominance
in general online search would give the new entity unfair advantages.
"ITA plays a crucial role in
online flight search and has been a key driver of competition and innovation in
online travel," said Thomas Barnett, counsel to Expedia and former assistant
Attorney General and head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division from
2005 to 2008. "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