Skift Take

ITA was a hot commodity in its heyday before Google swallowed it up in 2010. That's ancient history, and there was waning interest among small companies to access what is now Google's flight-search software. All things must pass.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is pulling a software tool that let small companies access search information on airfares, a potential blow to online travel newcomers.

Google’s tool was opened in 2011 after its $700 million acquisition of ITA Software Inc., an online airfare broker. In approving the deal, a federal judge required that Google keep an ITA flight search and pricing software, called QPX, accessible to third parties for at least five years.

In 2014, Google created a cheaper version of the QPX software, called QPX Express, meant to target smaller companies and startups. Google shut that service down due to “low interest,” according to a company spokeswoman. Google said it is keeping intact a version of the original software tool for corporate customers.

Google used ITA’s tool to create Google Flights, which aggregates airline prices directly inside its powerful search engine. The product competes with companies like Priceline Group Inc.’s and Chinese travel giant International Ltd.’s Skyscanner. Those travel sites would tap the Google flight search engine through the open software, along with major airlines.

Since buying ITA, Google has slowly improved its travel-search products, and has started letting some users book flights without having to directly visit sites owned by Expedia Inc. and Priceline, the two dominant players in the industry. Still, those two companies are among Google’s most important customers, spending billions on online ads every year.

In a post on its website for developers, Google said it’s closing off the QPX Express service on April 10, 2018.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Mark Bergen and Gerrit De Vynck from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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Tags: flights, google, ita software

Photo credit: Small businesses used ITA Software, now owned by Google, to enable consumers to search for flights, but the service for small businesses is being phased out. Pictured, planes stood on the tarmac during a pilots strike of German airline Lufthansa at Frankfurt airport, Germany, November 23, 2016. Ralph Orlowski / Reuters