Two stake presidents, one a Washington D.C. business magnate and the other a Utah industrialist, have agreed to provide food service for the largest airline in the world, the Soviet Union's Aeroflot.
The two stake presidents are J. Willard Marriott, president of the Washington, D.C., Stake and chairman and president of the Marriott Corporation; and Jon M.Huntsman, president of the Salt Lake Monument Park Stake and chairman and chief executive officer of the Huntsman Chemical Corp. They met with Aeroflot at a rare press conference Jan. 17 at the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C., where the announcement was made.They said the agreement may lead to more and bigger business opportunities in the future. "We feel," Marriott said, "that recent economic changes within the Soviet Union will launch vigorous expansion within the country, and we look forward to being a part of that growth."
Marriott In-Flight Services, the world's largest airline catering service, and Aeroflot announced that they are forming a new company, Aeromar, to handle airline catering within the Soviet Union. Aeromar, in turn, will contract with Huntsman's company - America's largest privately held chemical company - to provide plastic food service products, such as trays and utensils, for the venture. Huntsman will build a chemical plant in the Soviet Union to do it.
Under the new joint venture, Aeroflot will own 51 percent of the new Aeromar Ltd. and Marriott will own 49 percent. Aeromar will modernize and refurbish a 110,000-square-foot kitchen at Moscow's Sheremetjevo Airport to handle food for domestic flights in the Soviet Union.
"This partnership is truly symbolic of the great strides our respective nations have taken toward world peace and cooperation," Huntsman said at the press conference.
"General Secretary Gorbachev and President Reagan have created a framework for mutual trust and cooperation. We applaud these statesmanlike moves toward bilateral relations between our two countries. This alliance provides a basis for the Bill Marriotts and Jon Huntsmans of America to expand our businesses and share our dreams with the Soviet people," he said.
Yuri Dubinin, Soviet ambassador to the United States, said he expects to see more such joint ventures and joint press conferences in the future.
Huntsman and Marriott posed for pictures with Aeroflot Director General Vleladimir A. Nacharov.
Nacharov added a hope for more business with Marriott and Huntsman by saying, "We have established with them good human relations, which, according to our opinion, is the most important technical investment" possible for future ventures.
Nacharov joked that Aeroflot only managed to feed its passengers "sometimes," and has such a large volume that "only the world's largest caterer" could handle its business.
This agreement allows for the first contract food service operation in the Soviet Union involving a Western company, Marriott said. It will mean an additional $15 million to $20 million initially in sales a year for Marriott, with growth expected.
The Moscow kitchen will also be one of the largest operated by Marriott.
Huntsman, whose firm has manufacturing operations throughout the world and plans to expand in Thailand, India, China, Singapore and Iraq, also views its involvement in the joint venture as an inroad for future projects in the Soviet Union.