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Expedia Group CEO on Google antitrust case: ‘Very pleased to…

Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern speaks from his home during a session at the virtual GeekWire Summit on Tuesday.

Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern says he hopes the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust complaint against Google ultimately changes the search giant’s behavior, and creates a fair marketplace for the online travel company and others that both compete with Google and rely on its dominant search engine for traffic and customers.

“I’m very pleased to see the government finally taking some action,” Kern said at the GeekWire Summit on Tuesday, marking the company’s first public statement on the case since it was filed Tuesday morning. “Hopefully, it will create a fair marketplace for us, which is all we want. We have no axe to grind against Google, except that we don’t think the marketplace is equitable.”

Expedia Group, based in Seattle, includes major travel brands such as vrbo, Orbitz, Hotwire, Trivago, Hotels.com, and Egencia in addition to the flagship Expedia.com. Kern, a longtime Expedia Group board member, has been CEO since April, leading the company through the travel downturn, caused by the pandemic, and an internal restructuring of its technology and operations.

Company leaders including Kern and Chairman Barry Diller have been outspoken about the challenges created by Google’s dual role as search platform and competitor. Expedia pointed out in a regulatory filing earlier this year that Google has been building out its online travel offerings while “further prioritizing its own products in search results.”

The company has traditionally spent heavily on Google search ads to boost traffic to Expedia Group brands.