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Copter Service Begins in L.B.

June 18, 1987|ROXANA KOPETMAN | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — A new helicopter airline began daily scheduled flights Wednesday out of the Long Beach Airport.

L A Helicopter Inc. received a one-year city permit to operate its passenger and freight service between Long Beach and Los Angeles International Airport--the first helicopter service with scheduled flights in Long Beach, according to the company's president, Gordon J. Myers. When City Manager James C. Hankla advised the City Council of the permit Tuesday, Councilman Warren Harwood objected to the service.

Harwood agreed to vote with his colleagues to "receive and file" the permit only after Hankla assured him that the helicopters would not fly over his district. The council was not asked to vote on the permit, which was issued through the Public Works Department.

'Not Too Eager'

"I'm really not too eager about having more flights (over Long Beach)," Harwood said after the meeting.

Myers said his Aerospatiale "Astar" helicopters are considered the industry's quietest. Service between LAX and Long Beach will begin with 11 round-trip flights a day, increasing to one every hour, from 6:45 a.m. to 8:45 p.m., Myers said after Tuesday's council meeting. If the company wins approval to operate in Orange County, additional flights between LAX and Orange County will stop in Long Beach as needed, Myers said.

The four helicopters that will serve Long Beach will follow the 405 Freeway to LAX and fly at 1,500 feet, Myers said.

L A Helicopter has an agreement with Jet America and will operate off the airport's south ramp area. Eventually, Myers said he hopes to establish his own ticketing agency "like any other airline."

Charges for Ride Vary

Since last September, the helicopter service--which also flies out of Burbank, Commerce and Industry--has offered flights to and from Long Beach on a chartered basis--about five flights a day, according to Myers.

Charges for the 10-minute LAX-to-Long Beach ride range from free to $65, Myers said, depending on whether it is connected to an airline agreement, which airline and what class of service the passenger is flying. For example, the company has an agreement with Delta on which its first-class passengers between LAX and Long Beach pay nothing, but coach passengers are charged $5, he said.

Most of L A Helicopter's business is associated with airlines, Myers said. But, he added, the company also serves "a lot of people who love going on the helicopter for the thrill of seeing the city the way they never had before."

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