Helicopter tour operator files for bankruptcy

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Nigel Turner, president and CEO of Grand Canyon West Ranch and Heli USA, is shown during an interview at the ranch, Oct. 17, 2005.

A longtime scenic helicopter tour operator will continue to operate through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, an attorney representing the company said Tuesday.

Heli USA Airways, based at McCarran International Airport, filed its petition in the Nevada district of U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Monday. Initial court appearances are expected next week.

Court documents say there are up to 49 creditors with assets and liabilities listed at under $50,000.

Attorney Ambrish Sidhu said the company would continue to operate while its finances are reorganized.

Heli USA specializes in scenic tours over the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead with a fleet of five Agusta 119Ke helicopters.

The company’s president and CEO, Nigel Turner, a former British army helicopter captain, also owns the 106,000-acre Grand Canyon Ranch Resort in northern Arizona near Dolan Springs and offers tour packages for customers flying to the Grand Canyon and overnighting at the ranch.

Late Tuesday, Turner said the company filed for bankruptcy protection resulting from a loss of business that occurred when the road to his ranch was blocked and a contract with the federal government was breached. Turner said a federal judge in Phoenix District Court entered an order to correct the breach of contract but it was too late for the company to hit projected revenue during this year’s high tourism season.

Turner, whose company has been in business in Southern Nevada for 18 years, said the company’s revenue is off 48 percent from last year.

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