cFares, a search engine that scours the net for airfare and other travel bargains, announced today that it brought in both $3.1 million in second-round financing and a new chief executive to help strengthen its brand.

At first glance, cFares operates pretty similarly to other discount airfare sites like Travel Zoo and Cheap Tickets, but there’s a twist. The Redwood City, Calif. company gives site members access to much cheaper “wholesale” airfares, particularly to international destinations. In the past, we’ve referred to it as the Costco of airline tickets because it charges a $50 subscription fee for this access (a feature some displeased users have complained about). Also separating it from the pack is the ability to set up a continuous search for a particular flight. If a ticket becomes available, the site puts a 24-hour hold on it.

The new CEO, Tom Kalinske, is joining the company from learning-toy developer Leapfrog, where he held the same post. Before that, he worked at Knowledge Universe, Sega, Matchbox and Mattel. cFares hopes he will apply the brand-building skills he refined in those earlier roles to turn it into a more recognizable name.

The new round of financing — from Claremont Creek Ventures and Garage Technology Ventures — will also go toward developing the site. The company brought in a first round of $4.5 million from Claremont Creek last year, in addition to $1.5 million in initial seed funding.


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