Google To Buy Travel Data Firm ITA
Google plans to buy ITA Software for USD$700 million, but conceded that combining its Internet search with ITA's service, widely used by the travel industry, is sure to draw regulatory scrutiny.
Google's foray into the business of online travel information allows the Internet advertising and search leader to target users more specifically.
But it has unnerved industry players worried that Google could end up wielding too much influence in the sector.
Google executives called the deal "pro-competitive" and "pro-consumer" but said it expects that US regulators will examine the deal's implications closely.
ITA is a major source of information about airfares to the aviation industry, used by airlines, travel agents and other sites including American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Hotwire, Kayak, Orbitz and Microsoft's Bing.
Google beat reported bidders Expedia, Kayak and Travelport.
"Their technology opens exciting possibilities for us to create new ways for users to more easily find flight information online, and we're looking forward to welcoming them to Google," chief executive Eric Schmidt said in a statement.