According to a news report from The Verge, the move could affect third-party travel sites, such as Orbitz and Expedia. It’s also a sign that Google is becoming increasingly interested in competing with the big names in travel services.
The service will be shut down as of April 10, 2018, and new user registrations for the flight service have ended. Google also sent out an email to the service’s customers to notify them of the change.
“We decided to no longer support the QPX Express API given the low interest among our travel partners,” a Google spokesperson said. “Instead, we’ll focus on our other enterprise solutions for partners and users.”
The company is currently building its own consumer-facing flights service, adding such cost-saving features as flying on a different day, landing at a different airport or checking to see how airfares vary over time.
Google also acquired ITA Software, an MIT spinoff that powered most online flight searches, for $700 million. When it first announced the deal in 2010, the move was scrutinized by the Obama Department of Justice over concerns that Google could potentially monopolize travel services. Antitrust officials eventually allowed the deal to go through as long as the government could monitor Google’s behavior, and that the search giant would continue to support its public-facing API program for five years.
That five years is up, and it isn’t clear how Google’s decision to shut down its API service will affect third-party travel sites. A spokesperson for KAYAK and its parent company, The Priceline Group, declined to comment because “this doesn’t affect Priceline.com or KAYAK.”
But these services might now have to build their own databases by going directly to the airlines, which will require more work on their parts to curate and automate data on flight times and fares.