Google enters travel search market after $700m acquisition

Google has set its sights on the multibillion pound travel market after buying travel search specialist ITA Software for $700m (£461m).

ITA Software works with airlines and travel agents by aggregating flight times, availability, pricing details which can then be used as part of customer-facing sales tools.

The cash deal, which is the six-largest in Google’s history, could potentially position the search giant in direct competition with leading online travel sites including Expedia, Cheapflights and

It also increases pressure on Microsoft, which has received positive press for its Bing flight tracker – only available in the US – which aggregates flight prices and suggests whether you should buy now or wait for a better deal.

But while Google has not explicitly said it is looking to sell tickets online CEO Eric Schmidt did not rule it out in a conference call yesterday evening.

Marissa Mayer, Google VP for search products and user experience, said while online travel market is growing fast, competition from the likes of Google would only benefit other parties in the long-term.

“Once we’ve completed our acquisition of ITA, we’ll work on creating new flight search tools that will make it easier for you to search for flights, compare flight options and prices and get you quickly to a site where you can buy your ticket,” she said.

The deal follows two weeks after Google launched a property search tool on Google Maps in the UK, allowing people to find houses to rent or buy from independent estate agents.

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