Lufthansa Group has reported a 2019 first quarter loss as it absorbed the impact of higher fuel costs and overcapacity in the European market.

The group made an adjusted loss before interest and tax of €336 million ($380 million) for the first three months of 2019, down from earnings of €52 million in the same period a year earlier.

“Among other factors, earnings for the period were reduced by a €202 million rise in fuel costs. Market-wide overcapacities in Europe also put strong downward pressure on fares.”

Lufthansa also explained in the April 15 statement that first-quarter results for 2018 were particularly strong, owing to the capacity reductions linked to airberlin’s demise.

Unit revenues for the period were down significantly at the group’s network airlines, which include Austrian and SWISS, and its LCC unit, Eurowings, Lufthansa said, adding that favorable booking levels and a clear slowing of market-wide capacity growth meant it expected unit revenues at constant currency to increase year-on-year in the second quarter.

“For 2019 as a whole, the Lufthansa group still expects to report an adjusted EBIT margin between 6.5 and 8.0%,” it said. 

The group recorded a 2018 net profit of €2.2 billion ($2.5 billion), down 7.6% from €2.3 billion in 2017.

Full 2019 first-quarter results are scheduled to be released April 30. 

UK ultra-LCC easyJet warned April 1 that Brexit and macroeconomic uncertainty were curbing customer demand, while Virgin Atlantic cited Brexit and fuel costs when it reported a loss April 10.

Helen Massy-Beresford, helen.massy-beresford@aviationweek.co.uk