Bankruptcy Upsets Flying J Expansion

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Bankruptcy Upsets Flying J Expansion

OGDEN, Utah -- Travel stop operator Flying J's plans to open a chain of travel plazas across Europe was put on hold due to the company's filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection last month, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Flying J had been mapping out its first expansion outside North America -- which called for travel plazas modeled after its outlets in the U.S. and Canada -- when liquidity issues arose and forced the company into bankruptcy, the report stated.

Flying J's Chapter 11 filing on Dec. 22, 2008, allows the company to address its liquidity needs, which stem from the steep decline in oil prices, coupled with the credit market turmoil. All of Flying J’s U.S. operations, including approximately 250 truck stops and fuel stops, were expected to remain open and operational with no layoffs necessary.

"Due to the bankruptcy, Flying J is not aggressively pursuing Europe, but we do have property in Germany and may look at the European market when the economy improves," Peter Hill told the newspaper last week via e-mail, but declined to elaborate further.

Flying J planned to open five plazas in Germany as part of a larger strategy to eventually build 12 plazas in the country and an unspecified number of plazas elsewhere in Europe, according to German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, which was cited by the Tribune. But plans to build the first plaza on a highway outside Hamburg appear to have been put on hold, according to an article in the German newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt , which was also cited by the Tribune.

The German reports stated the travel plaza would offer food, electronic games and overnight parking for hundreds of trucks, along with a hotel, supermarket and a truck-leasing office. Flying J reportedly also invested 12 million euros ($15.6 million) in land and other outlays for the plaza, according to the Tribune.