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Google Shuts Off Airline Booking Tool in Search

Updated on
  • Company closing off cheaper version of travel pricing software
  • Feature allowed small companies to tap airline search, pricing

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is pulling a software tool that let small companies access search information on airfares, a potential blow to online travel newcomers. 

Google’s tool was opened in 2011 after its $700 million acquisition of ITA Software Inc., an online airfare broker. In approving the deal, a federal judge required that Google keep an ITA flight search and pricing software, called QPX, accessible to third parties for at least five years.

In 2014, Google created a cheaper version of the QPX software, called QPX Express, meant to target smaller companies and startups. Google shut that service down due to “low interest,” according to a company spokeswoman. Google said it is keeping intact a version of the original software tool for corporate customers.

Google used ITA’s tool to create Google Flights, which aggregates airline prices directly inside its powerful search engine. The product competes with companies like Priceline Group Inc.’s Kayak.com and Chinese travel giant Ctrip.com International Ltd.’s Skyscanner. A spokeswoman for Priceline said the change won’t affect the company’s websites that offer flights.

Since buying ITA, Google has slowly improved its travel-search products, and has started letting some users book flights without having to directly visit sites owned by Expedia Inc. and Priceline, the two dominant players in the industry. Still, those two companies are among Google’s most important customers, spending billions on online ads every year.

In a post on its website for developers, Google said it’s closing off the QPX Express service on April 10, 2018.

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