Mideast budget airline FlyDubai says its losses narrowed in the first half of the year as it flew more passengers and spent less on fuel.

The Dubai government-backed airline said on Thursday it lost the equivalent of $24.5 million in the first half of 2016, compared with a loss of $40.1 million during the same period a year earlier. Sales climbed 5 percent to $627 million.

The airline reported carrying 4.9 million passengers during the period as it boosted flight frequency to European cities and regional countries, including Bahrain and Oman. Fuel costs fell to 24 percent of total operating costs from 31 percent previously.

FlyDubai began operations in 2009. It suffered its worst accident in March, when a 737-800 crashed in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, killing all 62 people on board.