Qatar Airways profits, revenue up in 2016 with new routes

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – One of the Middle East’s biggest carriers, Qatar Airways, announced on Monday net profits of $445 million in 2016, up from $103 million the previous year.

The airline’s revenue rose from $9.3 billion in 2015 to $9.6 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al-Baker said in a statement it was the 19-year-old airline’s best fiscal year to date.

The airline added 13 new destinations this year to fly to more than 150 cities worldwide. It also launched direct flights from its base in Doha to Atlanta, home to the world’s busiest international airport.

Qatar Airways operates a fleet of 186 aircraft, including the new Airbus A350 XWB, out of its hub in the vast new Hamad International Airport in Doha, which is preparing to host soccer’s World Cup in 2022.

Qatar Airways is one of the region’s three biggest carriers, alongside the Middle East’s biggest carrier, the Dubai-based Emirates Airline, and the Abu-Dhabi based Etihad Airways. The three have increasingly challenged Western airlines in long-haul flights.

U.S. carriers — including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — have criticized the three major Gulf carriers, saying they are aggressively expanding services to the United States while receiving unfair subsidies from their governments. They have pressed Washington to renegotiate treaties that allow Gulf airlines to fly to the U.S.

Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways deny they are subsidized.