Google announced on Wednesday that it's shutting down an automated airfare data feed in a move that could kneecap third-party travel booking sites as the search giant pushes its own competing tools.
The platform, which is set to close in April of next year, has been used to power pricing features on major travel services and airline sites like Orbitz and United Airlines, according to TechCrunch. A Google spokesperson told Bloomberg the shutdown was due to "low interest."
Google added the feed in 2011 as part of a $700 million acquisition of MIT-born travel software company ITA. At the time, a federal judge ruled that Google had to keep the data accessible to third parties for at least five years in order to satisfy concerns that the deal could hurt fair market competition.
Now that the deadline has elapsed, it's not much of a surprise that Google is killing it off. The company has begun to double down on its own booking tools that compete directly with leading brands like Expedia and Priceline.
It's possible that many of the bigger names in the industry saw this decision coming and took steps to avoid relying on Google for that reason. A spokesperson for Priceline-owned Kayak.com said the site doesn't use ITA's data despite being named as a client in the past.
But the decision could make it harder for smaller upstart travel sites to break into an industry where reliable data is often expensive and hard to come by.
A Google spokesperson told Bloomberg that the closure will only affect the company's cheaper version of the API—QPX Express. A premium program will still be available to bigger corporate clients for a heftier fee.
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