Transportation Chief: 5 Airlines probed for price-gouging

In this March 28, 2012, file photo, luggage waits to be run through the baggage system for testing in the new Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr. International Terminal at Atlanta's airport. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Friday the government has opened a price-gouging investigation involving five airlines that allegedly raised airfares in the Northeast after a deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia in May disrupted rail service.

The Transportation Department released letters to five airlines — Delta, American, United, Southwest and JetBlue — seeking information on Friday.

In this March 13, 2014 file photo, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is shown during testimony before the Senate Transportation subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In this March 13, 2014 file photo, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is shown during testimony before the Senate Transportation subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“The idea that any business would seek to take advantage of stranded rail passengers in the wake of such a tragic event is unacceptable,” Foxx said.

The department is exploring whether the price hikes violated federal regulations prohibiting airlines from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices.

Eight people were killed and about 200 were injured in the May 12 crash in Philadelphia, temporarily disrupting service.

For reasons still unknown, the train accelerated to 106 miles per hour in the minute before it entered a curve where the speed limit is 50, investigators have said previously. In the last few seconds the brakes were applied with maximum force, but the train was still traveling at over 100 mph when it left the tracks.

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