Lufthansa passenger compensation cost 500 million euros in 2018: executive

FILE PHOTO: Planes of German air carrier Lufthansa are seen at Germany's largest airport, Fraport, in Frankfurt, Germany, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

ANTWERP, Belgium (Reuters) - Lufthansa spent 500 million euros ($573 million) on compensating passengers for flight delays and cancellations last year, a senior company figure said on Friday.

A Lufthansa spokesman could not confirm the cost cited by Thorsten Lange, the German airline’s head of fuel purchasing, at a Platts oil product conference.

However, the group’s bill for such problems had more than doubled to 350 million euros in the first nine months of the year, the spokesman added. The figure for the full year is due to be published next month.

Lufthansa struggled last year like rivals to cope with Europe’s rising demand for air travel.

Germany’s largest airline, which owns budget carrier Eurowings, also had problems integrating 77 aeroplanes it took over from bankrupt domestic rival Air Berlin.

The company has since announced it will expand its executive board and create a position dedicated to improve operational stability and quality of the airline group that also includes SWISS and Austrian Airlines.

($1 = 0.8731 euros)

Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; additional reporting by Ilona Wissenbach in Frankfurt and Thomas Seythal in Berlin; Editing by Keith Weir