Lufthansa made €1.67 billion in adjusted earnings before interest and tax in the first nine months of the year, down slightly from €1.69 billion in 2015.

The German airline group’s results for the period to September came against the backdrop of a “challenging market environment”.

Traffic revenues fell by 4.2% year-on-year, blamed on “continued pricing pressure,” despite increased passenger numbers.

Chief executive Carsten Spohr said: “The Lufthansa Group is developing with stability in a difficult market environment.

“We are responding to the pricing pressures in the air transport sector with consistent capacity and cost discipline.

“Our three-pillar strategy – our premium network airlines, our successful dual brand Eurowings and our world-leading service companies – is reaping its rewards.

“Our business is diversified and robust. And we are confident to reach last year’s good results’ level also for the full year 2016.”

He added: “We are building on this position of strength to grow further through global partnerships and drive the consolidation within Europe via our Eurowings platform.

“The expansion of the Eurowings Group is progressing well, thanks to the planned wet-lease agreement with Air Berlin and our planned full acquisition of Brussels Airlines.

“This would make Eurowings the number three in European in point-to-point traffic, less than two years since its launch.

“Following our successful new joint-venture agreement with Air China, we have now secured our position in all the key long haul markets for the long-term. This will sustainably support our revenue development.”

Looking forward, Spohr said: ““Despite the volatility of our business and despite the difficult market environment, we are looking ahead with confidence to 2017.

“We are moving forward; we are making things happen; we are delivering. We will continue to further work on our future viability also next year.”

The group recently lifted its profits forecast for 2016 with earnings expected to match last year’s level of €1.81 billion.