Qatar’s Hamad International airport (HIA) processed 17.6 million passengers between January and June 2016, an increase of 20 per cent compared with the same period in 2015.

Aircraft movements rose by 17 per cent to reach 118,069, while cargo volume was up 20.3 per cent to reach a total of 817,792 tonnes.

The growth is attributed to the continuous expansion of Qatar Airways, which added eight new destinations to its route in the first half of 2016, the company said in a statement.

Qatar Airways operates HIA.

The routes from Doha to Dubai, London, Bangkok, Bahrain and Colombo generated 20.3 per cent of HIA’s total passenger traffic during the first half of the year.

The UAE topped all countries in terms of total passenger numbers followed by India, Saudi Arabia, the US and the UK. Region-wise, the Far East achieved a 33.6 per cent share of passenger movements, followed by the Middle East with 22 per cent and Europe with 21.6 per cent during the same period, the company said.

In August, Qatar announced it will start charging all departing passengers, including transit passengers, QR35 ($9.6) for using its airport facilities. The new tax will be reflected in all tickets sold after 30 August with travel dates starting 1 December, according to news agency Reuters, which cited a circular sent by Qatar Airways to travel agents.

Airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi announced the same service fees earlier this year, which are seen as an additional measure to help the governments boost their revenues in view of falling oil income.