Alleged airline shut down

A company claiming to be an airline offering cheap flights between Hawai`i and Los Angeles has been ordered to cease sales by a state judge. Mainline Airways has been selling tickets for as little as $89 for weeks, but the state Office of Consumer Protection said the company has no legal right to operate — as an airline, or even as a travel agent. “It takes more than a web site to start an airline,” DCCA director Mark Recktenwald said in a press release. “From the evidence gathered thus far it does not appear that Mainline has much more than that.”

Investigators believe hundreds of people have already purchased tickets for flights supposedly scheduled to begin in July.

Circuit Court Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo signed the temporary restraining order on Friday. The state has also filed a lawsuit against the company and its CEO, Luke R. Thompson, citing deceptive trade practices. The suit seeks civil penalties and restitution for those who purchased tickets.

Mainline has not sought any official approval to operate, Recktenwald said, either from the state or from the Federal Aviation Administration. The company’s website boasts “an exclusive fleet of state-of-the-art, Boeing commercial aircraft” with “personal televisions at every seat.” But the state doubts the company has a single airplane.

Nor does Mainline have a business license in Massachusetts, where Thompson is believed to be located.

But according to an interview conducted via fax, Thompson told the Associated Press he’s now in Nevada. He also said the company planned to file all the required papers, and that it would subcontract the flights from another carrier.

Nonetheless, FAA rules prohibit advertising or offering flights without its approval.

Anyone who has purchased a ticket from Mainline should contact the Office of Consumer Protection at 586-2653.

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