Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr spoke of a “dark day” for the airline.
“We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew,” Lufthansa said on Twitter, citing Spohr.
“If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors,” it said.
A spokesman for France’s DGAC aviation authority said the airliner crashed near the town of Barcelonnette about 100 km (65 miles) north of the French Riviera city of Nice.
French and German accident investigators were heading for the crash site in Meolans-Revel, a remote and sparsely inhabited commune in the foothills of the French Alps.
German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt would also travel to the crash site, a ministry spokesman said.
Airbus said it was aware of reports of the crash.
“We are aware of the media reports,” Airbus said on Twitter. “All efforts are now going towards assessing the situation. We will provide further information as soon as available.”
Officials at Barcelona airport said the flight took off at 0855 GMT (0455 ET). Families of those on board the plane were gathering at a specially prepared building there.
The crashed A320 is 24 years old — at the upper end of useful life of an aircraft in first-tier airlines — and has been with the parent Lufthansa group since 1991, according to online database airfleets.net.-Reuters