Officially the deal is the expansion of a “strategic global alliance” between the pair, a partnership which has been in place since 2006 when Kayak started working with Amadeus to help realise its ambitions outside of its home turf of North America.
Kayak used the Amadeus Meta Pricer system to help power airfare and availability of non-US/Canada search results, while using ITA Software‘s famed QPX predominantly for domestic carriers and routes.
The multi-year agreement announced this week says Amadeus will provide “the most comprehensive and accurate flight search results” to Kayak, including extending the technology for use in North America, an Amadeus official says.
No other details were disclosed.
This, inevitably, triggers suspicions as to what is the status of Kayak’s relationship with ITA Software, the tech company bought by Google in 2010 and at the centre of the original FairSearch¬†anti-deal campaign against the search giant – featuring a consortium of travel brands of which Kayak was a vocal member alongside Expedia, ¬†TripAdvisor and Travelocity.
Kayak and Google officials stress that there is no change at all to their partnership – Kayak remains a customer of Google under its existing contract to license the QPX system until the end of 2013.
Many industry watchers pondered if Kayak would try to extricate itself from the ITA relationship at some point (don’t feed the beast, as they say), or would at least seek to find an alternative provider to take over from 2014.
Even in May this year, Kayak¬†stated in an S1 filing¬†to the SEC (as part of the regular updating process of its IPO documents) that “alternative faring engine solutions currently do not provide the level of comprehensiveness and accuracy that ITA‚Äôs software provides”.
But equally the S1 filings over the 18 months or so since Kayak announced its intention to IPO do actually shed some light on what is happening behind the scenes and the company’s use of third parties (such as ITA) to help power its search results.
What is clear is that Kayak is now relying significantly less on ITA to provide results to airfare queries than it was just six months ago.
The ITA relationship remains in place, of course, but another technology provider is obviously helping out ¬†slack.
Could it be Amadeus?¬†Possibly.
The same S1 filing from May 8 this year notes how Kayak and Amadeus entered into a “product and services agreement” on January 1 2012 – coincidentally, during the same six-month period, according to the filings, where ITA’s dominant role at Kayak started dropping.
Amadeus just waited six months before announcing the deal…