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USA Today Expert: ITA Plays Essential Role in Pricing and Shopping

USA Today contributor David Grossman, a former airline industry executive, had it right when he wrote in his ‘Business Traveler’ column that ITA Software “plays an essential role in pricing and shopping for more than $25 billion in air travel annually.” He should know – Grossman’s bio speaks for itself, describing him as a former director of e-commerce for US Airways, who also developed travel booking products for several airlines while at global distribution system (GDS) provider Galileo International. By the way, Galileo is now owned by Travelport – you might remember Travelport, Google says it’s a competitor to ITA.

Grossman does a better job than most can at explaining why Google is interested in ITA:

“With the growing uptake of ITA’s software by so many major travel industry players, it’s no wonder they’ve attracted Google’s attention. More than two out of three Internet searches begin with Google. A similar ratio of consumers commence their travel planning and purchase process using a search engine, and more than one in three travel-specific searches begin on Google.”

And why consumers and online travel sites that compete to give them the best results in travel search should be concerned:

“Perhaps the greatest concern for Fair Search ITA customers and non-customers alike is the leverage Google will gain in negotiating future contracts due to the sheer number of air travel inquiries and bookings passing through the combined Google-ITA pipeline.”

While Grossman leaves it up to the Justice Department to determine ultimately whether the deal will be good or bad for consumers, he cautions, “…funneling such a large portion of travel inquiries through a single channel could ultimately reduce competition and increase booking costs that would most likely be borne by air travelers.”

That’s certainly what we believe here at FairSearch – and a primary reason why the DOJ should challenge Google’s proposed acquisition.