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by Michael J. Shapiro | April 13, 2011

 On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice approved Google's acquisition of ITA Software, allowing the two companies to proceed with the deal that was first announced last year. ITA Software pioneered the airfare search matrix that fuels many online flight-price comparisons, and the company licenses its software to a number of clients. Google intends to honor all existing ITA contracts and has publically stated that ITA customers will have the opportunity to extend their contracts through 2016. "How cool would it be if you could type 'flights to somewhere sunny for under $500 in May' into Google and get not just a set of links but also flight times, fares and a link to sites where you can actually buy tickets quickly and easily?" wrote Google senior vice president Jeff Huber in a blog post on Friday. The two companies will work at creating such synergies just as soon as they close the deal, which they are working to accomplish as soon as possible, wrote Huber. The proposed acquisition has drawn protests from online travel agencies and metasearch sites, which claim such an arrangement will harm competition.