Washington – The Department of Justice on Friday cleared
Google’s (NASD: GOOG) $700 million acquisition of Massachusetts-based ITA Software, but also
added several caveats aimed at protecting competitors in the airfare comparison
and booking space. Under the agreement, the DOJ will require Google to license
its travel software, provide mandatory arbitration under certain circumstances
and establish a reporting mechanism for competitors to make formal complaints.
"The acquisition, as originally proposed, would have substantially
lessened competition among providers of comparative flight search websites in
the United States, resulting in reduced choice and less innovation for
consumers," the Justice Department said in a statement.
Since Google first
announced the deal in July, the online travel industry has sought to block the
acquisition, alleging the company’s dominance in search would give it an unfair
"We will begin work immediately to close the acquisition, and
are committed to making the integration process as seamless as possible for our
employees and customers," said ITA in a statement.
ITA’s software is used
by most major airlines and travel distributors to organize flight information.
Clients include American, Continental, Southwest, United, US Airways and Virgin
Atlantic, as well as online travel sites including Hotwire, Kayak, Orbitz and