Jig Is Up For Internet Airline

riding a wave in Oahu, Hawaii
Authorities in two states say a college freshman in Massachusetts created a fake airline that offered bargain-priced tickets on flights between Honolulu and Los Angeles.

Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly says Luke Thompson, of Yardley, Pa., incorporated Mainline Airways in Pennsylvania, established a business address in the Boston suburb of Wellesley and set up an elaborate Web site to sell tickets.

Reilly says Thompson, who attends Babson College in Wellesley, offered fares as low as $89 one way between Los Angeles and Honolulu. Flights were supposed to begin July 3, but as recently as a few weeks ago, Mainline had neither planes, crews nor the required permits and approvals.

Thompson told The Associated Press that the allegations are "absolutely untrue," but he did acknowledge that he is the only person behind the company, other than a consultant and an investor he did not identify.

"We had every intention of doing this operation," he said. "We had 15 airlines we had contacted or were in serious negotiations with, regarding the actual providing of the (air) service."

He offered no details on which airlines were involved.

Thompson's Web site, which has been taken down, described the company's "fleet," outlined various policies and answered travelers' questions.

Reilly won a temporary restraining order Wednesday that keeps Thompson from using any Mainline bank accounts for anything other than providing refunds. A judge in Hawaii last week ordered ticket sales halted.

Thompson faxed letters earlier this week to Hawaii officials, promising refunds by the end of the week to 120 "pre-reservations" and maintaining that Mainline Airways was "only to be the tour operator."

By Martin Finucane