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Airlines, Hotels, and Retailers Raise Concerns Over Google’s Search Changes

 |  May 27, 2024

Leading airlines, hotels, and retailers are voicing their apprehensions about being sidelined by Google’s search modifications under new European Union tech regulations. Lobbying groups representing these industries have called on EU tech regulators to consider their perspectives, not just those of large intermediaries, as Google adapts to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

The Airlines for Europe group, which includes members such as Air France KLM and British Airways owner IAG, along with the hotel group Hotrec, the European Hotel Forum, EuroCommerce, Ecommerce Europe, and Independent Retail Europe, initially raised concerns in March about the potential impact of the DMA. The act, which imposes a series of dos and don’ts on Google and five other tech giants, aims to enhance user choice and foster competitive opportunities for rivals. However, these groups fear that the changes may negatively affect their revenue streams.

Read more: Why This Google Antitrust Lawsuit Has Promise

In a joint letter dated May 22 to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager and EU industry chief Thierry Breton, the groups articulated their growing unease. “Our industries have serious concerns that currently considered solutions and requirements for implementing the DMA could further increase discrimination,” they wrote.

The letter emphasized that initial observations suggest these changes might significantly reduce direct sales revenues for companies by favoring powerful online intermediaries, who would receive preferential treatment. This, they argue, would disproportionately benefit large intermediaries and aggregators at the expense of airlines, hotels, merchants, and restaurants.

The European Commission is currently investigating Google for potential breaches of the DMA. However, the Commission has not yet responded to requests for comments on the matter.

In a March blog post, Google acknowledged that changes to its search results might drive more traffic to large intermediaries and aggregators, potentially at the expense of direct sales for hotels, airlines, merchants, and restaurants. Google has not provided additional comments following the recent letter from the industry groups.

The letter also highlighted concerns that the ongoing investigation into non-compliance with the DMA seems to focus solely on the fair treatment of third-party services, overlooking European businesses that also offer services on Google. The lobbying groups urged EU regulators to ensure a more balanced approach that considers the interests of all stakeholders involved.

Source: Reuters