Airlines should “push back” against Google Flight Search which threatens to “wipe out” review and metasearch sites, according to CarTrawler’s Bobby Healy.
Healy, chief technology officer at the Dublin-based car rental broker, told the CAPA Airline Leader Summit in Dublin: “Google is abusing its monopoly position [and] its scale and growth are frightening.”
He repeated a warning he issued at the recent Eyefortravel Europe Summit in London, saying: “Google currently makes $16 per online airline booking [and] airlines willingly give them product and fares in real time.
“They have more access to your customer, more data than you will ever have, and more engineering ability than any company has ever seen.”
He told the CAPA summit: “Google is going to wipe out metasearch operators. First will be research and review sites like Tripadvisor, then metasearch sites like Kayak and Skyscanner.
“Google Flight Search is bad for the airline industry and bad for travel distribution.”
Healy told airline leaders: “You all pay for paid search. Google intercepts searches for your name and then charges you for it.
“You complain about GDS [global distribution system] fees that have been fairly static for years, but Google fees are growing at 15%-20% a year.
“You think a GDS fee of $5-$6 is expensive. Wait till Google is charging you $50 a booking.”
Healy insisted: “The Google strategy in travel is to achieve critical mass in airline data. Don’t let Google have your data unless it is on your terms.
“The EU found Google favoured its own products. You can wait 20 years for the regulators to get some teeth or you can push back against Google Flight Search.
“The only way to stop it is don’t participate in Google Flight Search and provide the best mobile product for your customer.”
He added: “Google is fantastic, but they are taking too much. They are growing at 20% a year when the industry will grow at GDP levels, and ultimately the consumer pays.”
Malaysia Airlines group chief executive Peter Bellow said: “We should give Bobby Healy a knighthood. Most people are afraid to say Google is peddling a kind of snake oil.”