Microsoft has joined a coalition consisting primarily of travel sites that is lobbying to block Google's pending acquisition of ITA Software.
FairSearch.org announced on December 13 that Microsoft, Foundem, Level...com, and ZUJI joined the group. Existing FairSearch.org members include Expedia.com, Hotwire, TripAdvisor, Farelogix, Kayak and Sabre Holdings.
"Today’s announcement and the coalition’s new international members signal the growing concern around the world about the broader threat the Google-ITA deal poses to travel consumers," claimed FairSearch execs in a press release. Microsoft is interested in Google's ITA proposal because its Bing Travel search site (formerly known as Farecast) is powered by ITA. ITA powers 65 percent of all online flight searches at U.S. airline sites, according to FairSearch. Previous reports have claimed Microsoft has provided information about the potential impact of the Google acquisition to U.S. antitrust authorities.
Google announced plans to acquire Cambridge, Mass.-based ITA for $700 million on July 1. Google execs have said they believe the acquisition "will create a new, easier way for users to find better flight information online, which should encourage more users to make their flight purchases online" and will benefit passengers, airlines and online travel agencies. Google execs have said Google doesn't plan to sell airline tickets to consumers and has no plans to set airfare prices.
Update: On the subject of Microsoft and travel search, the Redmondians have added a new capability to Bing to enable users to search more quickly and directly for travel info from Bing.com.