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Thursday, April 29, 2004



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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
James Ono, standing near doorway, waited three hours in line yesterday to get into the office door of TM Travel Inc., which does business as Jackie's Travel. More than 70 people waited in the hallway leading to the office yesterday after hearing news that the agency was suspending operations.



Customers swarm
travel firm for refunds

Jackie's Travel will send out
checks after a suit forces the
firm to suspend operations



CORRECTION

Friday, April 30, 2003

>> TM Travel Inc. does business as Jackie's. A story, a photo caption and a secondary headline on Page A3 in yesterday's early edition incorrectly labeled the firm as Jackie's Travel.



The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at fbridgewater@starbulletin.com.

About 2,000 to 2,500 Jackie's Travel customers will receive refunds sent in the mail after the travel agency learned it had to suspend operations, said company attorney David Gierlach.

"The checks were already sent to most customers within the last few days," said Gierlach, who is representing TM Travel Inc., which does business as Jackie's.


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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jack Kitagawa: He says the firm will explore its options after refunds are made


More than 70 people swarmed the fourth-floor hallway leading to the TM Travel office at the Varsity Building at 1110 University Ave. yesterday after they heard of the indefinite suspension of agency operations.

By 11:30 a.m. another 35 customers formed a line to the elevator that goes up to the travel agency.

Once the refunds are made, travel agency chief executive Jack Kitagawa will assess the future of Jackie's. "We have several options we're going to look at," said Kitagawa.

"Whether Jackie's is going to make arrangements with other carriers, nobody (has) made those decisions yet," he said.

On Tuesday, Kitagawa sent a letter to customers informing them of the agency's decision to suspend operations indefinitely effective this Sunday. A refund for each customer who booked a tour package with the agency after that date was enclosed in the letter.

World Airways Inc., air carrier for the travel agency, filed a lawsuit against TM Travel alleging that the agency owed $2.3 million as of Monday. On Sunday the debt will increase to $2.7 million.

According to the lawsuit, the travel agency failed to wire the required payments into an escrow account with Valley National Bank.

World Airways contends that the travel agency "has been improperly maintaining payments from its passengers for these flights in two separate bank accounts, Hawaii National Bank and Central Pacific Bank, instead of depositing those funds into the escrow account."

World Airways said Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Transportation will not renew Jackie's public charter prospectus after Sunday, citing noncompliance with federal regulations.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Ezra denied World Airways' request to freeze the agency's accounts allowing TM Travel to refund its customers.

World Airways' attorney Roy Tjioe said, "We are trying to get information on funds that Jackie's received and see how much of the money will be paid out to customer refunds and how much is remaining after that."

Tjioe said they also will look into the amount of money that should have been paid into the escrow account.

A mix of irate and loyal customers stood in line yesterday.

"It's disrupting," said May Arakaki, of Moanalua Valley, who purchased two six-night packages at the Las Vegas Club Hotel for $1,100 from the travel agency for the first time.

Arakaki had planned to go to Las Vegas on May 26 with her husband, Rick Rita, until they heard that the agency was putting a halt to its operations.

"My jaw dropped to the ground," said Arakaki.

She noted that they plan to call Hawaiian Airlines to reserve a flight to Las Vegas.

Kamehameha Heights resident Pat Ho, a regular customer, said she plans to return to TM Travel should operations resume.

"I would always fly with this man. He takes good care of customers," Ho said.

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