US Airways mum on Philly-Pittsburgh fare hikes

Last week, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter plugged some numbers into US Airways’ website. The paper found that some travelers could see six-fold increases in fares between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia once Southwest Airlines Inc. ends its competing service in January.

For example, the Gazette found that a one-day return ticket between the two cities, a purchase frequently made by business travelers, jumped from $118 to $698.

“A deal breaker for a lot of folks trying to get back and forth across the state,” according to Ed Tettemer, a tourism marketing contractor based in Philadelphia.

Tettemer often works on a fixed budget, so the price difference would come out of his pocket.

“Now what do I do? Drive?” says Tettemer, who takes the 45-minute flight to western Pennsylvania six to 10 times a year. “Or do I rent a car for a couple hundred dollars? So that’s tough.”

A US Airways spokeswoman could not confirm the change in price for the flight. She says the airline cannot discuss price decisions under current federal regulations.

Initially, she said the restrictions come from the Department of Transportation, which has no restrictions on disclosing fare information.

Experts had predicted the jump in prices after US Airways gets the route to itself. A US Airways representative says simply that the company makes decisions “based on the price the market will bear.”

The airline, however, still will offer different tickets for the Philadelphia to Pittsburgh trip for less than $700.

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