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Consumer Advocate: Google/ITA Could Threaten Consumer Choice

When asked by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Should Google’s deal with ITA go forward?” William McGee, travel and aviation consultant to Consumers Union, responded:

“One brand is so ubiquitous it’s become a verb, while you’ve probably never heard of the other. Yet the combination of Google and ITA Software potentially could pose a significant threat to consumer choice if you book travel online. We all know the power of Google. If it acquires ITA — a business-to-business heavyweight that provides travel content for major airlines and leading travel sites, including Bing, Hotwire, Kayak and Orbitz — the Google Web search engine would have control over which potential rivals could employ ITA’s data. What’s more, Google potentially could dictate the placement of rival travel deals when you’re searching for the best itineraries and rates. Google says it has no such intentions. However, that could change with time and market shifts. That’s why the U.S. Justice Department should block the purchase if it determines the deal won’t serve the best interests of consumers.”