DOJ Talks to ITA Rival Vayant About Google Bid

The Department of Justice has shown great knowledge of the flight information software market in its inquiry into Google's $700 million bid to buy ITA Software, says Vayant CEO.

The Department of Justice is well-prepared when it comes to the flight information software industry and Google's attempt to buy ITA Software, according to an executive in the industry.

Google said Aug. 27 the DOJ had issued a second request for information about the search giant's $700 million bid to acquire ITA Software.

The DOJ is concerned about how the bid would affect competition. ITA supplies flight route and pricing information to services such as Microsoft Bing Travel, Orbitz and

Google would effectively control access to the ITA data. Google has said it plans to honor the contracts between ITA and its customers.

The regulatory body wants to make sure Google won't take steps to hurt those businesses and the hundreds of others that use ITA QPX software.

Atanas Christov, CEO for ITA rival and flight pricing comparison service Vayant, said he spoke with the DOJ for several hours Aug. 18. Christov, who said a Google acquisition would boost competition in the industry, said he came away impressed by how well-versed the agency was with the flight information space.

"Vayant's overall position toward the acquisition is that we're really friendly to it," Christov said. "We think it can really expand the playground for travel innovation, which is missing because there is a consolidated tree of closely knit global distribution systems that sit in the middle of the space."

Europe's Amadeus and Sabre and TravelPort in the United States provide those global distribution systems. These companies horde data such as seat availability, which is expensive and difficult to access for business customers such as ITA and Vayant that need it.

ITA, Christov said, presented a challenge to those GDS vendors that have created such high barriers to entry in the space.