Lufthansa Group has said it will propose to shareholders not to pay a dividend for the 2019 business year to safeguard its liquidity during the coronavirus crisis.

The group, which owns Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, and Air Dolomiti, said after a meeting of its Executive Board on March 13 that it had prepared the annual financial statements for 2019 and had opted to propose to the Annual General Meeting, to be held on May 5, that the dividend payment should be suspended.

Lufthansa Group closed the financial year with adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of EUR2.026 billion euros (USD2.224 billion).

To mitigate the impact of the crisis, the group said it would cut material and project costs, implement reduced working hours, and negotiate the postponement of planned investments. Despite these countermeasures, it said it expected its adjusted EBIT for 2020 to be significantly below the prior-year result.

On March 17, Austrian Airlines temporarily suspended all scheduled flights as of March 19 until at least March 28. Brussels Airlines and Air Dolomiti are also suspending their flight operations for the time being. On the same day, Lufthansa Group said its overall seating capacity on long-haul routes would be reduced by up to 90%. In comparison, within Europe, around 20% of the initially planned seating capacity will be offered by its airlines.

Despite the large-scale cancellations, Lufthansa, Eurowings, and Austrian have scheduled more than 20 flights on B747, B777, and A350 aircraft for over 6,000 passengers at short notice to fly home holidaymakers and cruise guests. As thousands of German, Austrian, Swiss, Belgian, and other citizens are still waiting to return, the group said that its carriers were making arrangements for further evacuation flights.