The hotel industry is urging the U.S. government to reject the proposed merger between Expedia and Orbitz Worldwide, arguing the combined company would control the online booking market and be able to impose higher costs on the industry. The Justice Department is reviewing the $1.3-billion transaction, which was announced in February and came just weeks after Expedia completed a takeover of another online travel site, Travelocity.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association cites market research suggesting a merger with Orbitz would give Expedia and its affiliates a 75-percent share of the hotel, airline and rental-car bookings made through all online travelagents, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“With 480 online hotel bookings per minute, the hotel industry welcomes the innovation, convenience and competition that online bookings provide,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of AH&LA, in a statement.  “However, this proposed acquisition would severely reduce consumer choice in the online marketplace. It would result in Expedia, and its numerous associated brands, which would include Orbitz, Travelocity,, Hotwire, Cheap Tickets, and Trivago, controlling nearly 75 percent of the U.S. online travel agency (OTA) business."

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