January 10, 2013 / 12:05 PM / 5 years ago

Low-cost Vueling says passengers up 20 pct in 2012

MADRID, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling said it carried 20 percent more passengers in 2012 after adding capacity and was taking market share from flag carrier Iberia.

Barcelona-based Vueling carried 14.8 million passengers and its passenger load factor - a measure of how full planes are - was up 2.1 percentage points at 77.7 percent, it said on Thursday.

The airline, which has pulled in cost-conscious business travellers, is the target of a takeover bid from Iberia for the 54 percent it is does not already own.

Iberia, struggling to keep up with low-cost competition, posted a 3.1 percent decline in passenger traffic in 2012. The airline is cutting capacity and is in talks with unions to axe up to 4,500 workers, a quarter of its workforce.

Meanwhile, Vueling added a flight between Alicante and Moscow in January and said it will continue expanding international routes in 2013. The airline already operates five other routes between Spain and Russia, which is exporting a growing number of tourists to Spanish coasts.

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