Google announced that it is shutting down an API used by flight-search services which could put them out of business. The API in question is called QPX Express and Google acquired it back in 2011 when it purchased ITA Software. The kick in the pants here is that this particular API is pretty heavily used and relied upon by some major travel companies. Speculation is that Google is closing access down in order to push their own Google Flights service. Now companies like Kayak, Priceline, and others will have to find an alternative or face shutting their doors.
UPDATE (11/02/2017 3:10 p.m. ET): After publishing this article we reached out to Kayak, Priceline, Expedia, and Hotwire for comment. We received a reply from an Expedia spokesperson and will update if other brands reply.
Thanks for reaching out. Expedia brands have largely discontinued the use of ITA and do not believe the shutdown will be problematic. ~Expedia Spokesperson~
ORIGINAL STORY (cont):
It’s not a complete surprise that Google is taking these steps. As part of the purchase of ITA Software, a federal judge ordered Google to allow third-party access to the API for at least five years. Now that Google has fulfilled that obligation, they are shutting it down to third-party use. The bigger conversation is the concern that Google is once again making monopolistic business choices.
Wow. Google is shutting down ITA’s public-facing APIs. That’s an entire ecosystem of airfare startups executed with the stroke of a pen.
— Ted Benson (@edwardbenson) November 1, 2017
Services such as Kayak, which is owned by Priceline, and the UK’s Skyscanner, which is owned by China’s Ctrip.com International, use the QPX API to conduct flight searches, alongside other APIs. They make a commission on flight sales generated via the use of the API, while the QPX Express API takes a commission of $0.02 – reduced from $0.035 – for every query in excess of 50 per day.
Google’s owner Alphabet, meanwhile, has been beefing up its own Google Flights service, increasingly shifting it from providing basic information and passing on potential buyers to Expedia and other travel sites, to conducting the entire transaction itself and thereby taking a larger commission.
what is ITA?
— Chris Harris (@DefConFun) November 1, 2017
While Google is free to do what they want with their property, this choice is not sitting well with those who already believe Google is a monopoly. It will be interesting to see how Google Flight services work out and where the competition lands.
Last Updated on November 2, 2017.