Airlines On Google-ITA

What do the airline execs think of Google's planned acquisition of ITA Software? They're not really saying, and in many cases they probably don't know. Contacted Wednesday, most carriers declined to comment, although Lufthansa and Southwest Airlines offered some words. [more]

According to a Southwest spokeswoman, "I'm not initially hearing or reading anything that would cause us to do anything differently. We have long held the position of 'only at' on the general consumer side. (You know we have additional agreements on the corporate booking side.) If Google wants to enhance its search capabilities so that more people find to book their travel, within the terms of our site, then that can be a good thing. The devil is in the details, of course, and it's still too early to know more specifically." The spokeswoman noted that Southwest uses ITA's QPX shopping module for its Web site. "It's used to quickly return fares and availability from our reservation system (SAAS) for visual display on the Web page," she explained. "Our online team also does not feel that the early details from the announcement have any implications for us. We'll be interested to follow their progress."

At Lufthansa, "We still have to fully understand and analyze the planned logic of Google's search function," according to a spokesman. "In general, we are in favor of any technology that makes our fares more accessible, but we can also imagine that we will face new challenges."

Officials at other airlines offered no insight. According to spokespeople, American Airlines "doesn't have anything to say about this at the moment"; Delta "would rather not comment at this point, still a bit premature to know the impact"; AirTran does "not have a business relationship with ITA so the acquisition will not have an impact;" JetBlue would "prefer not to speculate at this time;" and Alaska has "nothing to offer."

Reps from Continental, United, US Airways and Virgin Atlantic did not respond to my inquiry.