Google launches Flight Search in India, will it hurt OTAs?

Google is throwing its knowledge muscle behind airline booking industry with its Google Flight Search which it launched in India today.

This is heavenly news for the avid travellers as it gets them the info they need at their fingertips. The search giant promises better flight info for consumers and more customers for travel websites with Google Flight Search.

“Enter your destination and date information and review the available flight options. Flight Search automatically eliminates long or expensive flights to help you get straight to the best options for you,” Google said in a statement.

Google has also thrown the muscle of its Maps product behind Flights. Flight Search enables travel searching and planning via full-screen map visualization — the major differentiator of the product. From your location, you’ll be able to see information on where else you could travel at the cost of flights with less than two clicks.

At the time of writing this news, Google Flight Search was not handling direct-booking. The service was focused on giving information in a visual way. But it isn’t difficult to guess where this is going.

The company also has a feature called “Book with Google” that lets you purchase a ticket from the airline without leaving Google Flight Search. So, it isn’t difficult to guess what will happen when Google starts handling transaction on its platform.

How flight information aggregators and Online Travel Agents (OTAs) respond to this assault on their business model will be interesting to watch.

Google has done similar thing to the hotel booking industry by integrating hotel booking info from aggregators into its maps listing. Even if they don’t handle the transaction on their own, for Google this is serious money to be minted — as they will be able to charge either the aggregators or the airlines CPA(cost per acquisition.)

The official statement says “We strive to include as many airline options as possible and are continually working to improve your Flight Search experience. We also strive to ensure that all information is accurate and current.”

Back in 2010 Google has acquired the legendary ITA Software that has organized all of the travel industry data since 1996. It took about one year for US Department of Justice to approved the $700 million buyout. Ever since Google has also done a nice job optimizing the Flight/Travel Search experience for mobile web.

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