Lufthansa Group has published its financial results for the full year to December 31, 2020, showing a net loss of €6.7 billion, compared to a profit of €1.2 billion in 2019.

The group burned through €300 million per month in cash in the fourth quarter of last year, and its member carriers operated at a combined capacity of just 31 per cent during 2020.

The one bright spot was the group’s cargo division, which reported pre-tax earnings of €772 million, benefiting from “rising demand over the course of the year”.

Describing the past year as “the most challenging in the history of our company”, CEO Carsten Spohr said that 2021 would be “a year of redimensioning and modernization for us”.

Spohr said that the group was preparing to offer up to 70 percent of pre-crisis capacity in the short term as demand increases, but the group warned that it would take until the middle of the decade to return to 90 per cent capacity levels.

“Travel restrictions and quarantine have led to a unique slump in demand for air travel,” said Spohr. “Now internationally recognized, digital vaccination and test certificates must replace travel bans and quarantine so people can once again visit family and friends, meet business partners or learn about other countries and cultures.”

As of December 31, 2020 Lufthansa Group had available liquidity of around €10.6 billion, just over half of which related to unutilised government stabilization measures. By the end of 2020 the group had drawn down government stabilization funds of around €3.3 billion.

The group’s fleet is expected to be reduced to 650 aircraft by 2023, and the firm is examining whether all aircraft older than 25 years should remain permanently grounded.

The results follow the €7.4 billion operating loss for 2020 reported by rival airline group IAG this week.

IAG reports €7.4 billion full-year loss