Lufthansa’s EUR 298M first quarter net loss worse than expected

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The largest European airline group, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, posted a worse-than-expected first quarter loss on Tuesday due to several factors such as bitter winter weather and high fuel costs.

According to Lufthansa it has lost 298 million euros (390 million dollars) in the first quarter, quite below the average of 264 million forecasted by analysts.

It was also worse than a loss of 267 million euros recorded by the airline in the first three months of 2009.

The cost of integrating loss-making subsidiaries BMI and Austria Airlines, as well as pilots strike in February that cut earnings by 50 million euros, were also cited by the carrier.

Lufthansa’s statement said the overall airline operations posted a loss of 330 million euros, 44 million worse than in the first quarter of 2009, despite 800 million euros increase in sales (to 5.8 billion euros).

Lufthansa shares dropped 3.5 percent to 12.21 euros in afternoon trading.

More details of Lufthansa’s first-quarter results to be published on Wednesday.