Etihad Airways, the United Arab Emirates' fast-growing national carrier, says its profit rose by more than half to $73 million last year as it boosted sales by carrying more passengers and used its stakes in other airlines to drive traffic through its Abu Dhabi hub.

The government-backed airline said Thursday its profit rose 52 percent over the previous year.

Revenue for the year increased to $7.6 billion from $6 billion in 2013.

Etihad and rivals Qatar Airways and Dubai-based Emirates are rapidly expanding, funneling mainly long-haul passengers and cargo through their growing Gulf hubs. U.S. airlines have criticized the carriers, saying they are distorting the market by benefiting from unfair state subsidies — a charge the Gulf airlines deny.