Global airlines' losses this year could exceed industry body IATA's estimate of $9 billion as no improvement across the sector is in sight so far, Deutsche Lufthansa's
We cannot expect a miracle from one day to the next, he said to journalists late on Wednesday in remarks embargoed until Thursday.
IATA, whose 230 member airlines fly some 93 percent of international air traffic, had said on Monday that the world's airlines lost at least $6 billion in the first half of the year as higher oil and jet fuel prices added to costs.
Lauer also said it would take strenuous efforts for Lufthansa to reach its 2009 earnings targets.
Lufthansa shares rose 0.1 percent to 10.645 euros by 0705 GMT, while Germany's blue-chip index <.GDAXI> rose 0.2 percent.
The carrier has said it aimed to cut annual costs by 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) by 2011 and warned it could post a 2009 operating loss. In addition to weak demand, Lufthansa is burdened with several acquisitions including Austrian Airlines.
Lufthansa last week obtained a regulatory green light to merge with Austrian Airlines (AUA)
With this acquisition as well as recent purchases of Brussels Airlines and a majority stake in British carrier bmi, Lufthansa becomes Europe's biggest airline with around 100 million passengers per year, Lauer said.
Lufthansa has been battling Air France-KLM
Analysts have said that while Lufthansa sees only 80 million euros of potential synergies from the deal, it will pay off in the long run as it gives access to growth regions in eastern Europe such as Krasnodar, southwestern Russia; Kosice, Slovakia; and Odessa, Ukraine.
AUA lost 429 million euros in 2008 and has piled up more than 1 billion euros in debt, or more than five times its equity. It only survived the past months due to a 200 million euro lifeline from the Austrian government.
Lauer said AUA's earnings had further worsened over recent months, and the company would now need to manage a turnaround.
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan, Editing by Michael Shields)