Google bigs up the competition as DoJ probes ITA deal

Google has confirmed that the Department of Justice is to expand its investigation into its proposed acquisition of flight information software provider ITA Software.

The $700 million deal was always likely to face anti-trust scrutiny, although Google tried to head this off right at the start, saying: “Because Google doesn’t currently compete against ITA Software, the deal will not change existing market shares.”

But the DoJ likes to make its own mind up about such things, and has now issued what’s known as a ‘second request’, asking for more information about the deal.

“While this means we won’t be closing the deal right away, we’re confident that the DOJ will conclude that online travel will remain competitive after this acquisition closes,” says senior product manager Andrew Silverman. “We’ll be working cooperatively with the Department of Justice as they continue their review.”

Naturally enough, Google is still trying to persuade the world that the deal won’t give it a stranglehold on the flight information market. And – rather entertainingly – Silverman chooses to do this by praising the competition.

“over the past few weeks online travel companies have noted that they have alternatives to ITA’s product: Kayak’s CEO called Expedia’s Best Fare Search alternative ‘awesome’; Orbitz said  that ‘Worldspan’s e-Pricing search technology is a good solution that Travelport is devoting resources to develop. So we have alternatives available to us’; and Continental Airlines noted that ‘there are alternatives to the [ITA] shopping solution in the marketplace, both internally and externally’,” he says.

One wonders if the company will still be talking this way once the deal has gone through.