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Orbitz CEO Talks About Travel, Competition

Alex Mares-Manton | Asia Images | Getty Images

Here's the good news: Travelers will book one-third of their travel plans online by the end of next year.

For online travel pioneer Orbitz, the bad news is there are new competitors planning to jump in β€” like Google β€” and some airlines that want to cut out the online middleman β€” like AMR's American Airlines.

On May 5 Orbitz reported a net loss in the last quarter that was twice the size of the loss in the quarter the year before.

American Airlines won't let its fares be displayed on the site, but Orbitz Chief Executive Barney Harford says much of the loss was replaced by growth in business from other carriers.

Orbitz is pouring money into upgrading its platform, which is cutting into profits. At the same time, Harford says the company is expanding its distribution products for other travel firms, its version of "private label" travel reservations.

Travel Dollars - A CNBC Special Report
Travel Dollars - A CNBC Special Report

Last week it signed one of the biggest such deals ever in Europe, agreeing to provide hotel room deals on the Eurostar rail site.

Terms were not disclosed, but Harford says Orbitz's hotel room business doubled in the first quarter from a year ago through distribution deals.

But the company's stock performance is abysmal, especially compared to Priceline.com .

In this exclusive interview with CNBC, I ask Harford what Priceline is doing that Orbitz might want to copy.

He also gives his outlook for the overall online travel business, for Orbitz in particular, and how investments in his company's website could make Orbitz more like...Netflix .