made a $700 million offer to acquire ITA Software, a flight information company. ITA's reservation management system includes a number of major clients in the airline industry and a group of online travel sites have come out in opposition as FairSearch.org in hopes of convincing the Justice Department to block the deal.Last June, Google
According to The Wall Street Journal, the oppositional group consists of Expedia Inc., Kayak.com, Sabre Holdings and Farelogix Inc. and they are concerned "that Google could limit access to ITA's software, which is used by many of the flight-comparison sites operated by the members of the newly formed coalition." The companies are behind travel sites Expedia, Hotwire, TripAdvisor, Travelocity, SideStep and Kayak.
"Google has tremendous power in the search market, and it gives Google the ability to steer users in directions that are best for Google," Expedia's counsel, Thomas Barnett, told The Wall Street Journal. "All of that would ultimately end up harming consumers."
Google has issued a response, saying that "Our reason for making this acquisition is simple: ITA will help us provide better results for our users."
Included in the company's rebuttal are promises that Google plans to honor ITA's existing contracts with clients and that it "does not plan to sell airline tickets directly." The site also refutes the idea that the deal will be bad for consumers by raising ticket prices or stifling innovation. In the end, the company defends the purchase of ITA saying that "We think we can make more significant innovations and bigger breakthroughs in online flight search for consumers by combining our engineering expertise with ITA's than we would by just licensing ITA's data service".
Google's acquisition of ad network Ad Mob caused similar anti-trust concerns, but the deal was ultimately cleared by the Federal Trade Commission. The Justice department is currently conducting "an extended antitrust review of the deal", according to The Wall Street Journal, but it has yet to come to a decision.