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Port of Bremerton launches fuel discount program

In an attempt to boost customer loyalty, the Port of Bremerton has decided to expand its bulk fuel discount program from the airport to its Port Orchard Marina.

In the past, the port encouraged aviators of all kinds to stop at Bremerton National Airport on their way elsewhere by offering frequent-customer discounts. The program, which offered operators a five-cents-per-gallon rebate if they bought more than 1,000 gallons in a month, reportedly boosted sales significantly.

Port treasurer Lynn Hills said even corporate aircraft chose to stop because the discount offered a much better deal over other airports in the area.

The airport fuel discount program, which was established in the 1980s, terminated in May 2002 when Avian Aeronautics took over the fueling facility.

The port’s plan for the marina is similar. Frequent users will be responsible for saving their fuel receipts, which can be for any boat a single person or company owns or leases. When the tally for the month hits 3,000 gallons, the port gives the customer a 10-cents-per-gallon rebate off all the fuel bought to-date, and applies the same discount to the rest of the fuel bought that month.

The reason the marina program has a much higher cutoff point before the discount kicks in, Attebery explained, is due to the differences in the vehicles served.

“The fuel tanks on vessels are much bigger than the tanks on aircraft,” he said.

Although port officials have not done any studies to determine whether any current marina fuel customers are likely to qualify for the discount, port Chief Executive Officer Ken Attebery said the primary point of the discount is to attract new customers, especially high-volume customers.

One hope, Attebery explained, is that the discount will draw boaters who, in the past, have fueled elsewhere in Puget Sound and — because of closures and/or rising prices — are now looking for a new gas facility.

“The number of fueling stations is dwindling a bit,” he said.

The port has its eye on bigger prize, as well. Currently, Kitsap Transit fuels its foot-ferry boats at the marina and, as a result, constitutes the port’s largest customer. With the discount program in place, Attebery hopes to attract other foot-ferry and water shuttle services — the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard’s employee shuttle, for instance.

Eventually, the port hopes to become the primary fueling station for the yet-unlaunched privately operated Kitsap-to-Seattle foot ferries. High-speed foot ferries can burn thousands of gallons of fuel every day; if the port could strike even an informal bargain with whoever opts to run the new passenger-only service, the port’s fuel sales revenue would likely increase exponentially.

The port’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the program, which goes into effect immediately.

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