In July, Google announced its $700 million acquisition of ITA Software, an essential provider of flight information to airlines, travel agencies, and online reservation systems. But the deal is reportedly being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department over antitrust concerns. When Google originally announced the acquisition, the company said it would use ITA’s data to create “new flight search tools.” With the deal still awaiting approval from the Justice Department, it looks like ITA took matters into their own hands and launched its its free airfare shopping mobile app, OnTheFly, for Android devices today.
Leveraging ITA’s airfare pricing and shopping technology, OnTheFly is a airfare comparison shopping engine that promises vast airport selection, an “intuitive travel date selector” and many search filters, including number of passengers, class of seat, type of seats, and more. You can search for domestic and international trips and the app will detect your location when choosing departure and arrival airports. The app will also include charts that compare between carriers, number of stops, travel dates, airports, plus total mileage and carbon emissions for each trip.
The app is also available for the iPhone; and the company says a BlackBerry app is in the works. I’m assuming that Google has helped ITA make the app fit natively into the Android OS, so it should be a useful tool for airfare comparison on the device.
Of course, we are still waiting to see if the regulatory agency will sign off on the ITA acquisition (as a side note Google says it will honor all existing agreements ITA had with previous partners). As we’ve written in the past, travel is a huge segment of search and online commerce and clearly Google wants to build out its travel search product, perhaps to compete with Bing Travel.