Google has airlines and travel sites up in the air

30 Jun 2010

Search giant Google’s efforts to acquire airline IT services provider ITA Software is understood to have unnerved the global travel industry who fear it may give Google too much power over their industry.

ITA Software is a major source of information about airfares that is used by airlines, travel sites and travel agents, including American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Orbitz and Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

The airlines fear Google might combine its dominance in internet search with ITA’s dominance of the travel sector and possibly alter the power airlines have over consumers shopping for flights.

The airlines and travel sector are so concerned that they have attempted to buy ITA Software before Google gets its hands on the company.

Kayak, backed by Expedia, offered to invest US$200m in ITA. However, the exclusivity of the talks between Google and ITA Software have scotched Kayak’s approach.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years