Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
Washington, D.C., July 18, 2002 — Today a congressional hearing will examine the impact of travel websites on consumers, examining allegations of uncompetitive business practices. Rivals have accused some popular travel sites of violating antitrust rules, but a close examination shows that those accusations are coming from disaffected competitors and are part of a history of companies using antitrust accusations as a replacement for honest competition.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
“These accusations of consumer harm by online travel services are just the latest example of a dangerous trend,” said CEI Senior Fellow James V. DeLong. “They’re efforts by industry participants to use antitrust arguments as an excuse to stifle innovation.”
In a recent study  published by the Cato Institute, DeLong described current attacks on Orbitz, the travel website recently established by several airlines, as “part of a larger assault on e-commerce being conducted by middlemen who fear erosion of their own monopoly power.”
The hearings, being conducted by the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, will question specifically whether travel websites owned by travel companies themselves, like Orbitz, serve consumers as well as unaffiliated sites.
Orbitz, which has quickly become a market leader by posting the lowest fares, is already being investigated by the Department of Transportation—again—because it wants to make sure the company is not being “anticompetitive.” But, says DeLong, “The antitrust laws should not be used as a barrier to changes that will benefit consumers.”
The Subcommittee hearing will be held in Room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Thursday, July 18 at 9:30 a.m. Mr. DeLong is available for interviews through the media relations department at CEI at 202.331.1010.
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org .