CONCERNS ARE growing among analysts that Lufthansa may be left showing a loss for the first half of the year after a poor set of traffic performances over the first five months of the year.

"The traffic figures are not very promising at all. The year has started very disappointingly," admits the airline, but denies that these figures mean that the airline is necessarily heading for a first-half loss.

Part of the blame for the decline is placed on the disastrous Dusseldorf Airport fire, which cost 120,000 passengers in April, translating into a 4.4% drop in traffic. Seat load factors fell by nearly two percentage points, to 67%.

The German flag carrier also repeats complaints about price competition from subsidised state-owned rivals. Chairman Jurgen Weber claimed earlier this year that Air France was price leading on some routes, despite its bail-out by the French Government.

Lufthansa, together with KLM and Scandinavian Airlines System, have called for the European Commission (EC) to block the third and final tranche of aid due to be paid to the French carrier shortly. The EC, which acted to block the latest tranche of aid to Olympic Airways after concerns over continuing political interference, says that it is investigating the claim, but that proof is hard to find.

Lufthansa has warned, that it will struggle to reproduce its 1995 profits performance this year.

The airline's official figures for the first half will be released at the shareholders' meeting on 3 July.

Source: Flight International