Coming April 10, 2018, the tech giant Google will be shutting off developer access to a feed which automates data for airfare search engines. Also that it would be ending new user registrations for flight service. Google has already sent out communication through email to its existing customers who use this data intimating of the recent change.
According to TechCrunch, these customers include a lot of household names like Kayak.com, CheapTickets, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic and few others. However, it is still not clear how shutting down of its API service would specifically affect the third party travel sites. By this decision, it might require the third party services to build their own databases by connecting directly with the airlines.
Any information on alternative API services is not being provided by Google, but there are some possibilities to explore by the software developers like Skypicker, Skyscanner and Fareportal.
Google announced its willingness to acquire ITA software that powered most online flight searches in 2010. This move at that time was scrutinized by the Obama Department of Justice which was concerned that Google would be allowed to monopolize travel services.
However, the $700 million purchase was eventually allowed by Antitrust Officials on the condition that the government would be allowed to monitor Google’s behaviour and that Google would continue its support to the public-facing API program for 5 years. But that duration has crossed now and the critics who distrust Google’s intentions and worry that this search giant is ultimately accountable to public regulators. Hence this step of Google to stop feeding airfare data has come to surface and it would shut down by April 2018.
The next step of Google is that while it’s shutting down the feed, it is building its own customer facing flight service along with cost-saving features to it. This means next time you are flying somewhere, there is an option under the new Flights search tab known as Flight Insights, where you can get some tips on how to make the travel cost effective, e.g. flying on a different date, landing at a different airport, a graph showing the variation of airfare over time. This is going to be more users friendly and visibly easier to get the details as compared to Kayak and Orbitz. The update is on the mobile web first whereas the desktop support later on.
Article by Somdutta.