The company also lacked the large one-time gains it booked in 2007. The Cologne-based airline said net profit for the year fell to $755 million.
The 2008 outcome 'represents an outstanding result and its quality is underlined by the fact that it has been achieved during a time of global economic crisis,' a statement quoted Lufthansa chairman and chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber as saying.
"One of the most challenging years in its history lies ahead of the aviation industry" Lufthansa said.
Analysts had forecast a higher net profit of 738 million euros.
Mayrhuber said that 2009 would present a far more challenging environment but added that the airline's financial situation and operational flexibility would allow it to benefit from opportunities as well.