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Conyers to DOJ: Protect Competition in Online Travel Search

On Friday, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee raised concern with Google-ITA in a letter to DOJ Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Christine Varney.

According to the National Journal, Conyers “is calling on the Justice Department to ‘carefully review’ Google’s proposed acquisition of travel software provider ITA Software to ensure competition in the online travel search market is protected.”

Citing the report released by the American Antitrust Institute last week, Conyers explained that “[t]his is a significant matter, as travel and tourism play a critical and ever increasing role in the U.S. economy, with the online travel industry accounting for $80 billion and nearly 40 percent of all e-commerce activity in 2009.”

He concluded “I urge you to review the proposed deal carefully to ensure competition and transparency will be protected in the online travel industry.”

With this letter, Conyers joins Reps. Howard Coble (R-NC) and Thomas Petri (R-WI) who urged close scrutiny of Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA in a letter to the DOJ on February 9th. Coble is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Aviation Subcommittee. And Petri (R-WI), Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee. They wrote:“It is essential that we preserve consumer choice and fair pricing in online travel. Numerous questions have been raised, and each deserves your scrutiny. We urge careful consideration of these concerns so that the highest level of competition can be maintained in this important sector of our economy.”

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, also sent a letter to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, urging the DOJ to scrutinize Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA Software on December 1, 2010.

These Congressmen are a part of a growing chorus of legislators, consumer groups and industry advocates who are speaking out about the proposed Google-ITA transaction.