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Lowestfare abandons airfare business

The company, once one of the top online airfare sites, has stopped selling airline tickets but will continue to sell vacation packages and cruises.

Online travel site Lowestfare.com has stopped selling airline tickets, according to a message posted on its Web site Thursday.

"While Lowestfare.com continues its vacation and cruise business, we have discontinued our airline ticketing-selling operation as of May 2, 2002," the message said.

Calls to the company's headquarters Thursday evening were not returned. Calls to the company's customer-service department were answered by a tape-recorded message that said the company would no longer sell airline tickets but would honor any tickets purchased before Thursday.

The Las Vegas-based company was once one of the top travel sites for airfare, when it had access to highly discounted tickets from Trans World Airlines (TWA) in a deal negotiated by Lowestfare's owner, financier Carl Icahn. But American Airlines purchased TWA in April 2001 and voided the distribution deal with Lowestfare.

The company expanded into car rentals, hotels and discounted cruise packages but has since struggled to compete against other travel sites selling airfare, such as Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity.

A year ago, Lowestfare began selling wholesale vacation packages through its Web site and Jetset Tours, a brick-and-mortar air consolidator and tour operator it bought in 1999.