German airline group Lufthansa reported a net loss of €342 million in a “weak” first quarter of the year.

Higher fuel costs of €202 million hit the performance in the first three months of the year along with over capacity in Europe.

Chief financial officer Ulrik Svensson said: “Overcapacities, especially on short- and medium-haul European routes, substantially depressed our first-quarter earnings.

“We are confident, though, that we will see a recovery in our unit revenues as early as the second quarter.

“Our confidence is based above all on our favourable booking levels for the months ahead.”

Low cost subsidiary Eurowings has cut its planned capacity growth after seeing quarterly losses increase year-on-year to €257 million.

The network airlines of Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines suffered a collective loss of €160 million, down from €132 million a year earlier as revenues fell 5.2%, blamed mainly on “the difficult European market situation”.

However, long-haul business to and from Asia and North America showed “much more encouraging trends”.

The group’s guidance for the year remains unchanged withrevenue growth of a mid-single-digit percentage amount although fuel costs are expected to be €600 million higher than 2018.