The Airbus A320 crashed Tuesday in the Alps in southern France on its way from Barcelona, Spain, to Duesseldorf, Germany.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr, himself a pilot, observed the ceremony at the company's main base, saying it was "a very emotional moment, to stand there with so many colleagues in uniform."
Dressed in a black suit, Spohr addressed workers in the lobby of the company's glass-fronted headquarters next to Frankfurt's international airport as airplanes took off overheard.
He said the company's first priority was helping the relatives of those who had died. He said it was "inexplicable for us, how an airplane in good mechanical condition, with two experienced, Lufthansa-trained pilots, could encounter such a tragedy from cruising altitude."
Employees lined up to sign a book of condolences set amid a display of white flowers and two candles.
Chief Financial Officer Simone Menne spoke of "one of the most difficult days, if not the most difficult day, that we at Lufthansa have ever experienced." She concluded her remarks by saying, "I can't really wish you a good day."
One of the plane's black boxes has been recovered and French authorities are investigating the crash's possible causes.