The future of the airline sector cannot be guaranteed without government financial support due to the coronavirus pandemic, the boss of Lufthansa Group warned.

The German carrier is reacting by cutting costs through “far reaching” capacity cuts and short-time working by staff.

Lufthansa chairman Carsten Spohr said: “The spread of the coronavirus has placed the entire global economy and our company as well in an unprecedented state of emergency.

“At present, no one can foresee the consequences. We have to counter this extraordinary situation with drastic and sometimes painful measures.

“At the same time, we must live up to the special responsibility that airlines bear in their home countries. We are doing everything we can to bring as many passengers as possible home on relief flights.

“In addition, we are doing our utmost to help ensure that supply chains for many thousands of businesses do not break down by mobilising additional capacity for air freight transport.”

But he added: “The longer this crisis lasts, the more likely it is that the future of aviation cannot be guaranteed without state aid.

“In view of the massive impact of the corona crisis, today’s publication of our results for the past financial year is unfortunately sidelined.”

Lufthansa Group has raised additional funds of around €600 million in recent weeks, giving liquidity of about €4.3 billion.

Unused credit lines of around €800 million are also available and further funds are currently being raised.

The Lufthansa executive board is to waiving 20% of its basic pay in 2020.

Chief financial officer Ulrik Svensson said: “The Lufthansa Group is financially well equipped to cope with an extraordinary crisis situations such as the current one.

“We own 86% of the group’s fleet, which is largely unencumbered and has a book value of around €10 billion.

“In addition, we have decided to propose that the dividend payment be suspended, and we are proposing short-time working in our home markets.”

The comments came as Lufthansa Group reported a 44% slump in 2019 consolidated net profit to €1.2 billion following a €600 million hike in annual fuel costs and a “noticeable economic slowdown,” especially in the group’s home markets, which also include Austria, Belgium and Switzerland.