Travel association backs anti-trust complaints against Google

Tripadvisor has joined Expedia in filing an anti-trust complaint against Google, with the European Technology and Travel Services Association (ETTSA) pledging “full support” for the action.

Online travel agency Expedia filed a complaint with the European Competition Commissioner last Friday, adding to the growing number of anti-trust complaints against the search giant.

Tripadvisor weighed in with its own complaint on Tuesday, accusing Google of “anti-competitive and unfair practices that harm the marketplace and consumer welfare”. The company said: “We hope the Commission takes prompt corrective action.”

The Expedia complaint alleges “specific business and search practices by Google that constitute a violation of EU competition and consumer protection laws”.

Neither travel company gave further details of their complaints. However, issued a statement backing the anti-trust action, claiming Google poses a serious threat to consumers. It said: “ shares Expedia’s concerns surrounding Google’s practices.”

UK online mapping service Streetmap also filed a complaint this week, taking the number of complaints registered against Google to a dozen.

A Google spokesman said the company was “happy to discuss any concerns the Commission might have”.

Christoph Klenner, secretary-general of ETTSA, said: “Google’s dominance of online search has prompted ETTSA to throw its full support behind the complaint by Expedia.

“Consumers expect that Google search results are neutral, but this is not the case when the results favour Google’s own platforms such as Flight Search. Other players in this arena, including the GDSs, abide by strict neutrality principles enshrined in EU legislation when displaying travel search results.

“ETTSA urges the Commission to closely examine Google’s potential abuse of dominance.”

Google introduced its Flight Search feature last year. It is accused of directing users to its own services, with Expedia alleging Flight Search “excludes any link to OTAs”.

The European Commission began investigating whether Google was abusing its dominant market position by favouring its own search services in 2010, and widened this to a full investigation last November.

Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has said he may decide whether to proceed with a case against Google later this month.

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