Niagara Helicopters is acquired

January 4, 2012 Updated Jan 4, 2012 at 9:24 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink, Buffalo Business First Reporter

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January 4, 2012 Updated Jan 4, 2012 at 9:24 AM EDT

Niagara Helicopters Ltd., a popular Niagara Falls, Ont. attraction, has been acquired by the Ottawa-based Helicopter Transport Services Canada.

The deal will be a transparent one for Niagara Helicopters as its fleet of five Bell 407 copters will retain their rainbow-colored motif and continue to fly from its longtime home on Victoria Boulevard near the Great Wolf Lodge and the Spanish Aerocar ride.

"Everything stays the same," said Luke Pilon, Helicopter Transport Services Canada president.

That includes retaining Ruedi Hafen, who started the company in 1961. Hafen has been vice president of public relations. Virtually, all of Niagara Helicopters staff has also been retained.

"Nothing changes, really," Pilon said.

The deal, whose terms were not disclosed, comes after three years of on-again/off-again talks.

"I've known Ruedi for 30 years," Pilon said. "It was just a matter of finding the right time to do the deal."

While Niagara Helicopters primarily operates during the peak spring, summer and fall tourism seasons, the company also provides a number of other speciality services including offering transportation to Toronto Island and Pearson International airports in Toronto as well as booking rides for wedding parties and other occasions.

During the peak summer months, the company has 55 local workers.

Each helicopter can handle up to six passengers plus the pilot.

Helicopter Transport Services has operations across Canada as well as ones in the United States, South America and Australia.

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