* Licensing focus of US probe of Google/ITA deal: source
* Orbitz has been neutral on transaction
WASHINGTON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Online travel company Orbitz Worldwide OWW.N said on Monday it reached agreement with ITA Software, in the process of being acquired by Google, to renew its software license.
Critics of Google’s (GOOG.O) $700 million cash purchase have expressed concern that Google rivals and potential rivals might lose access to ITA Software if the Justice Department were to approve the acquisition.
Under the deal, Orbitz will use ITA’s QPX software on its Orbitz and CheapTickets.com websites through the end of 2015, the company said in a press release.
The Justice Department, in its review of the controversial deal, has been focusing on ensuring that companies like Orbitz and Kayak continue to have access to ITA’s software after the transaction closes, a source has told Reuters.
“It (the license renewal) ... shows that ITA is willing to enter into long term contracts with some of these travel web sites,” said antitrust expert Andre Barlow of the law firm Doyle, Barlow and Mazard PLLC.
“It’s one way of handling it without having a consent agreement with the government,” said Barlow.
Orbitz, which has been neutral in the Google-ITA deal, has used ITA software since 2001, it said.
Google, the world’s No. 1 Internet search engine, announced in July its plans to acquire ITA Software.
ITA’s QPX is used by leading airlines and travel distributors like Alaska Airlines [ALKAIR.UL], American Airlines AMR.N, Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) Bing and Hotwire, among others. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)