Deutsche Lufthansa could permanently ground several of its 19 MD-11 cargo planes, German daily Handelsblatt reported, citing unnamed sources.

Lufthansa Cargo earlier this year decided to ground two of its planes until October 2010 and temporarily stop using two further planes in response to a drop in demand.

Air cargo companies have been buffeted by spending curbs by businesses amid the global economic crisis. Industry body IATA has said it expects global airlines to lose $11 billion this year on weak passenger and cargo demand.

Handelsblatt also cited Lufthansa Cargo's Chief Executive Carsten Spohr as saying the German flagship carrier's unit was not considering shutting down its own fleet altogether.

I don't want to imagine that Lufthansa Cargo's own fleet goes to zero, he was cited as saying.

Lufthansa has forecast a full-year operating loss for its cargo business and has said it could also post a loss in its passenger airlines if it cannot cut costs fast enough.

The airline said in an employee newsletter it was shutting down the fleet of about 45 planes seating 50 passenger each operated by regional carriers CityLine and Eurowings faster than planned as costs per seat sold were higher than on other planes.

Lufthansa was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Hans Peters)