Senator wants accounting from US Airways on Philly fares

By:  Ed Blazina

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey has sent a letter to US Airways objecting to the upcoming increase in the cost of flights from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

The Post-Gazette reported Tuesday that when Southwest Airlines drops its flights between the two cities next month, the price for a US Airways round-trip ticket will increase from $118 plus taxes to $698 plus taxes. US Airways would be the only airline operating direct flights between the cities.

In the letter dated today, Mr. Casey said an increase of about 500 percent would be "detrimental to intrastate travel."

"In the midst of a fragile economic recovery, this exorbitant fare hike would have a detrimental impact on businesses and individuals that rely on this service," the senator wrote. He noted that the Pittsburgh-to-Philadelphia route is used regularly by business travelers.

"Furthermore, an increase of this value would deter travelers from flying this route for leisure purposes," he added, noting that the cost of flying a family of four to Philadelphia would increase from about $500 to about $2,800 under the new fares.

Mr. Casey asked the airline to provide him with regular updates on the impact the increase would have on Pennsylvania travelers.

Earlier this week, a spokeswoman for US Airways said ticket prices were "based on what we think the market will bear." The airline could not be reached for comment on Mr. Casey's letter.