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Google’s travel deal faces regulatory turbulence

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SAN FRANCISCO — Google wants to become the hub of online travel, promising better bargains and more convenience by melding the Internet search leader’s wizardry with the Web’s top airline-fare tracker, ITA Software.

That has existing online travel sites such as Kayak, Expedia and Travelocity worried that they won’t stand a chance of competing, a scenario that could lead to higher fares.

The U.S. Justice Department is expected to decide soon on whether to let Google Inc. buy ITA for $700 million. The deal would give Google control over software that has helped power the reservation systems of most major U.S. airlines and a fleet of online fare-comparison services for the past decade.

Forrester Research says the U.S. market for online travel bookings totals about $80 billion annually.

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