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New Airline Ordered to Stop Selling Tickets to Hawaii

New Airline Ordered to Stop Selling Tickets to Hawaii

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HONOLULU (AP) -- A company claiming to be an airline was ordered Monday not to sell any more bargain-priced tickets between Honolulu and Los Angeles.

The state obtained a temporary restraining order against Mainline Airways LLC after an investigation found the company had not filed an application with the Federal Aviation Administration to operate a charter airline and doesn't have any planes, officials said Monday.

"It takes more than a Web site to start an airline," said Mark Recktenwald, director of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. "From the evidence gathered thus far it does not appear that Mainline has much more than that."

Mainline Airways has been offering fares as low as $89, plus $30 in taxes and fees, for one-way flights between Honolulu and Los Angeles starting July 3 -- about half the lowest fares offered by established airlines.

The Web site was still operating on Monday, with a reservations section inviting passengers to purchase nonrefundable tickets by credit card.

Luke Thompson, named in the court order and identified on a company letterhead as Mainline's chief executive, responded to a request for an interview by fax on Monday. The fax said he wasn't aware of the court order and had not been notified.

"Until I see the order, I must assume that this is hype being perpetuated by competition," he wrote.

Thompson offered no background on himself or independent verification that his company exists as an airline. He did not immediately return calls to a number on the letterhead.

In the fax, he said the company had no planes because it planned to subcontract the flights.

Stephen Levins, spokesman for the state Office of Consumer Protection, said the state has tried to notify Thompson, but he was unaware whether he had received the actual order.

Thompson, in the fax, said his company's plans to file necessary papers with the Department of Transportation have been hampered by other companies.

But the company has violated an FAA regulation prohibiting anyone from advertising or offering flights without the proper authorization from the FAA, said Tweet Coleman, a spokesman for the agency.

It was unclear how many people had used the site.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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