Gulf Air has been fined in Australia for breaching the curfew at Sydney Airport two years ago.

Australian transport minister Mark Vaile says the Central Local Court in Sydney has imposed fines of A$167,500 ($140,000) on the airline for two breaches of the 23:00-06:00 curfew, which took place in July and August 2005.

He says the first incident saw a Gulf Air aircraft departing shortly after the start of the overnight curfew, while on the second occasion the breach occurred after a request for a dispensation had been refused by the Government.

“The Government takes a consistently strict approach to considering curfew dispensation applications and this discourages airlines from making frivolous applications to fly during curfew hours,” says Vaile.

“The relatively low number of applications experienced reflects the extent to which airlines have now been educated regarding their curfew obligations.

During the 2006-7 financial year, only 59 applications were received for dispensations to fly during curfew at Sydney Airport, and only 25 were approved.”

Magistrate David Heilpern said in imposing the fine on Gulf Air that “there is a need for adequate punishment that reflects the seriousness of the offence”.

He added: “This is an offence where there are real and genuine victims, those persons who…are trying to sleep or otherwise enjoy some respite.”

Australia’s Government in 2000 increased its breach-of-curfew fines for airlines, to a maximum of A$550,000 per offence from A$110,000.