[WASHINGTON] The Obama administration is investigating whether US airlines raised ticket prices after a fatal Amtrak wreck in May disrupted Northeast passenger rail service, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said on Friday.
The Transportation Department wrote to Delta Air Lines Inc, American Airlines Group Inc, Southwest Airlines Co and JetBlue Airways Corp seeking more information, Mr Foxx said. Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, asked the agency to investigate, Mr Foxx said.
"There were a flurry of concerns raised" after the Amtrak crash, Mr Foxx said at an event in Washington sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. "They allegedly raised fees beyond what you'd normally expect along the Northeast Corridor while Amtrak was down."
Passenger service between Washington and New York, Amtrak's busiest route, was suspended for more than five days after a train traveling at twice the speed limit near Philadelphia derailed on May 12, killing eight passengers and injuring more than 200 others.
Three days after the accident, the New York Post reported airfares between New York and Washington were being sold for four times the normal amount. The Post said American offered the few seats left on round-trip flights for as much as US$1,000, leaving May 16 and returning two days later.
Round-trip flights between the two cities cost about US$200 for a regular ticket and as much as US$600 for a last-minute flight, CNN reported at the time, citing experts in the industry.