Update: Adam Kovacevich, Google Sr. Manager, Global Communications and Public Affairs offered us the following statement:
"I’m not sure there are any surprises here. Microsoft is our largest competitor and lobbies regulators against every acquisition we make; Foundem hasn’t liked where they rank in Google results and has been asking government authorities for years to regulate our results; and Zuji is a subsidiary of Sabre, which helped create FairSearch. It’s disappointing but not surprising that established players are defending the status quo, while we plan to provide consumers with better flight search tools and more choices and drive more traffic to travel websites."
Original Article: The FairSearch.org coalition, the group comprised mostly of travel sites and formed to block Google’s acquisition of ITA Software, has added some new members. These include: UK-based Foundem, Paris-based Level…com, Singapore-based ZUJI, and most notably, Microsoft.
The coalition is urging the Department of Justice to challenge Google’s proposed acquisition of flight search technology provider ITA Software, which powers many of the web’s most popular travel sites.
The new additions join companies like Expedia (which owns Expedia, Hotwire, and TripAdvisor), Farelogix, Kayak (Kayak, SideStep), and Sabre Holdings (Travelocity). Travelocity owns ZUJI.
The group says the addition of the new members signals the "growing concern around the world about the broader threat" of the deal.
"Competition in online travel search over the last decade has not only created more choices and innovation for travelers, but has also driven prices lower around the world for consumers," said Roshan Mendis, President of ZUJI. ‘We are concerned that less competition in flight search in the U.S. will result in less innovation in travel search globally, and more importantly, less pressure on travel service providers to offer the lowest price for consumers regardless of where they are located."
"Level…com is committed to protecting customer choice in online travel and to upholding the ethics of a fair marketplace," added President of the company, Frederic Vanhoutte. "Our members welcome competition and changes in the market. But allowing one dominant company to concentrate all the power in online flight search in its hand will reduce transparency and stall innovation, and that will lead to higher airfares for consumers."
The addition of Microsoft to the group is particularly noteworthy, as not only does it also offer a competing travel service, it is Google’s closest competitor in general when it comes to search (and the company isn’t a stranger to antitrust allegations itself).
ITA provides the technology behind 65% of all online flight searches at airline sites in the U.S. according to FairSearch.