The US Justice Department is investigating Google over its planned $700 million (€548 million) acquisition of travel software developer ITA, reportedly over antitrust concerns.
The department is investigating whether the purchase of ITA, which develops software used for in-flight comparison sites, would give Google too much power in the online travel industry, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
ITA solutions are used in Microsoft's search engine Bing and also power the ticket-search and booking sites of multiple airlines.
The investigation is seeking to determine whether Google, which plans to build its own travel booking site around ITA's software, would be able to unfairly disadvantage potential rivals by cutting off access, the sources said.
But Google has denied antitrust allegations, telling the Journal that it does not plan to sell airline tickets directly to customers – although it will likely sell advertising alongside the results of travel searchers.
The company also said ITA has several competitors providing flight search technology, meaning ITA's customers have other options.
While one of these competitors, Amadeus Holding, believes the EU will launch a similar investigation, Google said ITA earns too little from Europe to warrant a probe.
The online travel market is worth an estimated $80 billion.
It is the second antitrust inquiry into Google to launch in the past week.
The Texas Attorney General has begun probing Google’s search rankings, following complaints from competitors.