Google is reportedly working on an airfare comparison site, according to Ryanair founder Michael O’Leary speaking to the Sunday Independent. O’Leary was much more candid about Google’s upcoming plans than the search giant itself is ever likely to be, describing Mountain View’s intent to build a price shopping engine for comparing airline ticket prices. This would be a reimagining of Google Flights, which launched after it purchased ITA in 2010.
Existing sites that compare flight prices including Kayak, Expedia, Skyscanner and others are at a disadvantage compared to Google, in that it can act with complete independence from the airlines it lists. Many travel sites enter into marketing arrangements with their airline partners, which is understandable as that’s the obvious revenue model to exploit. Google, however, is seeking only access to the data of airlines, asking nothing in return in terms of payment, and instead selling its standard ads on the back of its ability to reach a massive audience.
O’Leary told the Independent that it would be sharing its ticket pricing “with all of the Google outlets,” making it possible to find routes and cheapest ticket prices, presumably on multiple platforms powered by Google software. It’s unclear exactly how this might work in practice, but presumably users Googling for airfare to a certain destination would see a comparison table of flight options in results, or this could be built in to something like Google Now, the personal assistant built in to all Android devices on later versions of that OS.
We’ve reached out to Google to find out more about these plans, and will update this story if they provide additional details.