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SYDNEY, Dec 3 AAP

December 03 2012, 4:06PM

Virgin Australia has reported an improvement in passenger numbers.

The airline said on Monday it has carried 5.9 million passengers around Australia so far in 2012/13, up 2.2 per cent from 5.75 million in the prior corresponding period.

The growth in passengers carried reflected an "increase in passenger volumes of transcontinental routes", Virgin said in a statement.

However, it cautioned that comparisons to the prior year were affected by the grounding of the Qantas fleet in October 2011 as part of the Flying Kangaroo's industrial dispute with unions.

Virgin has lifted capacity between Perth and Melbourne and Sydney by swapping smaller Boeing 737 aircraft with wide-bodied Airbus A330s.

The airline reaffirmed domestic capacity growth of between eight and nine per cent for the first half of 2012/13.

Virgin said total passengers carried across both its international and domestic flights was up 2.5 per cent.