Apparent joy at Google (also at FairSearch) after winning approval for its acquisition of ITA Software may be shortlived, with Europeans urging an overhaul of travel tech regulations.
Lobbying groups in the European Union have been hintingfor months that the existing GDS Code of Conduct will need to be looked at closely by regulators to reflect what is expected to be a vastly different travel distribution landscape as a result of Google entering the market.
The European Travel Technology and Services Association (ETTSA) is at the centre of such moves in Brussels, home to the European Commission which would investigate such a change of the regulatory framework.
Executive secretary Christophe Klenner says the outcome of the lengthy Department of Justice investigation into the acquisition of ITA Software only deals with the market for fare comparison software, rather than the market for distribution of travel services.
"Therefore, although DoJ’s requests are fair enough, they do not deal with what might be at stake in the longer term."
ETTSA is pushing ahead with talks with officials at the European Commission to adapt the Code of Conduct to ensure it includes "the changing environment", Klenner says.
"As the US decision does not deal with the distribution market place, there is little it can contribute to the policy thinking in Europe."
Klenner has previously said there needs to be a "specific definition for regulation of the GDSs and that definition may have to be changed" with Google potentially becoming a powerful player in travel distribution.
But problems with attempting to force a change in the Code of Conduct still remain.
If Google is forced into the regulatory framework, where does the boundary then start and begin of which travel search companies should be included?
But if Google successfully lobbies against such a move then perhaps the GDSs have a strong case to remove themselves from the code as well.
Nevertheless, with no clear statement as yet as to what Google will do with ITA Software, it is difficult to determine what course of action will follow.
What is beginning to emerge is that there are plenty of organisations ready to pounce and use the might (and delaying power) of the European Commission to either stall, annoy or scrutinise Google as it enters the travel sector in a big way.
It is worth noting that despite a lukewarm acceptance of the deal from Amadeus (more opportunity, it suggests) for it to sell its fare shopping products to suppliers and OTAs), the Madrid-based GDS is one of the founding members of ETTSA (alongside Sabre and Travelport) and could be one of the main influencers in pushing for a change to the Code of Conduct.